TEACHERS of Feltham children have responded "hysterically" to being stuck in various exotic locations during the ash crisis.
One local college has been forced to adopt an emergency action plan to deal with the loss of teaching staff who jetted off for some respite over the Easter holidays.
This week Feltham Community College had to close to different year groups in rotation to keep the highest standard of education going despite the temporary loss of 15 members of staff.
Speaking to The Chronicle on Tuesday, headteacher Victoria Eadie, said: "We took an organisational decision on Sunday night about how we were going to manage this week. We have one year group out of school per day. Most of the teachers are in quite difficult locations, we have two in Australia and one in America, another in Malaysia and another in Egypt.
"They are hysterical because they are stuck away from school and sitting worrying about lessons and students missing out."
Ms Eadie said she felt the school had managed the crisis well, but had serious concerns about how they would cope if the ban was extended.
Bedfont Junior School was one of the least affected in the area with no closures to any pupils.
Some staff from Fairholme Primary School were stuck abroad, but luckily not enough were absent to result in closure during the first week back.
School business manager at Feltham Hill Junior School, Irene Bowles, said: "One teacher and one of our support staff couldn't get back and 11 children are stuck in various places around the world. Not too bad really."
Oriel Primary School and St Lawrence RC Primary School were also lucky to get through without having to shut their doors.
Headteacher at St Lawrence school, Roy McCormack, said: "We have had a small number of children and a small number of staff off but it hasn't affected us at all."
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Kingston and Richmond teachers stranded - page 2
SCHOOLS across Kingston and Richmond faced a tricky start to the new term as hundreds of teachers were stranded abroad as volcanic ash grounded flights in and out of the UK.
Worst affected were New Malden's Holy Cross, which had 17 teachers missing this week, and Hollyfield, in Surbiton, which had 13 teachers and two other members of staff stuck on holiday.
Whitton School was 11 teachers down, and Orleans Park School, in Twickenham, was missing 17 teachers, including four who were with 40 pupils on a school trip to China.
The group was supposed to return home last Thursday and were among the first to be hit by the flight ban.
Headteacher Jo Longhurst said: "They were the first flight cancelled – they were told they would not be able to land in the UK. We held a meeting for the parents, to explain the situation, on Monday, and some of them were quite upset and anxious, especially the parents of the older children who have GCSE exams starting soon. But the staff have been brilliant – they've been holding revision sessions and organising day trips to keep their minds off it."
Ms Longhurst said Richmond Council was helping to fund the prolonged stay and that the group of 14-16 year olds hoped to be on one of the first flights allowed out of Shanghai.
Six supply teachers have been drafted in, and each year group was been given one day off this week, to ensure as many classes could go ahead as possible.
Ms Longhurst said she was not sure when her staff would return to work. "We're all keeping in touch but they're all over the world – we have a history teacher in Japan, a head of year in India, another teacher in America and one in Australia – and two are trying to get coaches back from Spain."
The school has been in touch with the British Embassy and Vincent Cable, to try and put pressure on British Airways to prioritise the stranded youngsters and get them home as soon as possible.
But it is not just teachers taking an unexpected extended break – about 10 per cent of the school's pupils were absent this week too.
Elsewhere, Tiffin Girls had eight teachers missing and Tiffin Boys had seven and three members of non-teaching staff. A group of pupils from Richard Challoner School, in Kingston, were stuck on a half-term trip to France when the first flights were cancelled, but made it back in time for the new school term, by taking a coach home instead.
A spokesman for Kingston Council said a total of 145 members of staff were missing from schools across the borough, as well as a large number of children. Tiffin Girls reported 65 pupils missing the first week of term, and Latchmere was 47 down.