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Demand to see lesson plans sparks industrial action

One of the Government's favourite "superheads" is calling for a high-level meeting to resolve conflicts over lesson plans as one of his schools battles industrial action.

David Triggs is chief executive of four schools including Unity City Academy in Middlesbrough, where 54 teachers withdrew co-operation with management this week.

The NASUWT union members are unhappy with demands that they submit a copy of their lesson plan after each class. They say it is "oppressive and harassing".

But Mr Triggs said it provided a resource for the future and a surety against parental complaints. He is writing to the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the Training and Development Agency, and teachers' and headteachers' professional associations, inviting them to a summit meeting.

NASUWT members at about 12 other schools have balloted for industrial action over the plans, forcing agreements between the union and headteachers. And National Union of Teachers members in Leeds said this week that they would refuse to hand in short-term lesson plans.

The dispute has often surfaced in primary schools where heads have insisted that teachers provide written plans in advance of every class, to protect against parent complaints and Ofsted inspections.

Unity City Academy does not ask for plans until after classes are taught. Mr Triggs said parents of children at the school, which has recently come out of special measures and has a high proportion of pupils with special needs, were entitled to know these needs are being met.

But Jerry Bartlett, NASUWT deputy general secretary, said the school had shown a lack of trust in teachers' professional judgment.

John Bangs, NUT head of education, welcomed the prospect of a summit. He commended DCSF guidance, which requires only a basic plan for the whole term, but said this had not stopped heads demanding more. "We will always protect members from headteachers who phone on a Friday demanding lesson plans for the Monday," he said.

The DCSF welcomed Mr Triggs' proposal to meet, saying officials would give it careful consideration. "Lesson planning is crucial to ensure pupils enjoy learning and continue to make progress," a spokesman said.

Analysis, pages 18-19.

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