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Action over red tape expected in six weeks

THE battle over bureaucracy in schools is set to escalate with members of the second biggest teaching union poised for industrial action in six weeks' time.

Plans for a ballot on what would effectively be a work-to-rule, in an attempt to cut excessive workloads, were announced by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers.

All indications are that the 180,000-plus working members of the union in England and Wales will back the action which, the union says, will use the Government's own advice for reducing bureaucracy. This is likely to include a refusal to administer exams and process examination marks. Action would begin just before the end of the A-level and GCSE period.

The move follows a decision made at the union's Easter conference in Llandudno to act to curb the growing problem of overload on teachers.

The balloting period officially opens on June 2 and closes 17 days later. Voting papers will be sent to teachers by June 5.

National officers will meet on June 2 to consider the results of the ballot and, if it was decided to go ahead, action would commence on or around June 28. A-levels finish on June 29 and GCSEs a day later.

Nigel de Gruchy, NASUWT general secretary, said: "Action should not affect exams because administering them and processing marks should be done by clerical people.

"Strike action is not proposed. There is no threat to pupils' education. Indeed, the action has the potential to make teachers more effective in the classroom and so improve levels of achievement."

Action instructions would include measures recommended by the Government in its anti-bureaucracy circulars and bureaucracy-cutting tool kit, which were issued last year.

These include limits on the number of meetings teachers attend each week; reductions in target-setting, streamlining lesson planning and cutting the length of documents produced.

Teachers would also boycott administrative tasks such as photocopying, record-keeping, and producing class lists.

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