Primary school heads 'waste' £32,000 of taxpayers' money on computer course in Australia

A group of primary school headteachers 'wasted' £32,000 of taxpayer's money on a three-week training course - in Australia.

The eight headteachers, who all work in Wiltshire, enjoyed a four-day training course in computer technology before visiting 12 Australian schools.

They were accompanied by a computer technician and a deputy headteacher, which brought the total cost of the trip to a staggering £32,657.


'Absurdly wasteful': Suzanne Seaton and Nick Capstick, two of the Wiltshire headteachers who enjoyed the £32,000 trip to Australia

Their three-week stay, which took place during term-time, was jointly funded by three Government initiatives and the school's own budgets.

Matthew Sinclair, spokesman for the TaxPayers' Alliance, slammed the training course as 'absurdly wasteful'.

He said: 'There is no need to travel to the other side of the world to see school computers in action. Spending tens of thousands on a trip is absurdly wasteful.' 

Terri Menham, headteacher of Red Oaks Primary School, Swindon, Wilts, led the group with her husband Steve, headteacher of nearby Wroughton Junior School.

The 10 school workers flew out to Australia on November 4, returning on November 23.

The purpose of their trip was to study how Australian teachers use Apple Macintosh computer technology to educate pupils.

Before the trip headteacher Lauren Connor said: 'We want to learn more about how they are using ICT as a delivery mechanism for the whole curriculum.

"We made a short film to present to the Australian Education Department in Sydney, and we are looking forward to establishing closer links with schools down under." 

Dr Nick Capstick, headteacher of Drove Primary School, who went with his deputy Anne Neave, described the trip as 'an investment'.

He said: 'When you have language and communication difficulties, ICT enhances learning. This trip was an investment in growing technologies.' 

The trip was jointly funded by three Government initiatives, Train to Gain, the Teacher Development Agency and the Standards Fund for Primary Education.

The total cost came to £32,000, with each primary school paying £500 towards the costs from their own budgets.

A spokesman for Swindon Borough Council revealed they did not organise the trip but said they fully supported the headteachers involved.

He said: 'We can confirm that eight headteachers and two members of school staff recently visited Australia for training and professional development purposes, with the aim of gathering technological ideas that could benefit Swindon schools.

'The trip was approved by the governing bodies and supported by Swindon Borough Council.

'It was organised by the visiting group themselves and entirely funded by central Government training grants, with no cost to the council whatsoever."


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