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Disputes looming over disruptive children;Conference;National Association for Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers

Action zones will be a key issue at the NASUWT conference. Frances Rafferty reports.

The second biggest teachers' union is warning of escalating action over its members being forced to teach disruptive pupils.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers will hear a motion at its Easter conference opposing the "unequivocal inclusivity" of children with special needs, including many with emotional and behavioural problems. The union is investigating 20 cases where members are threatening action.

Members are also expected to voice opposition to education action zones. Teachers suspect that they will be a Trojan horse to bring in new conditions and longer hours. Standards minister Stephen Byers has described them as a test-bed for the future. Schools in the zones will be able to scrap the existing teachers' pay and conditions arrangements and the national curriculum.

The union will be launching its campaign to boycott what it regards as excessive workload and expects the ballot to endorse the leadership's initiative to cut out excessive documentation, over-elaborate recording and reporting. It also wants the recommendations of the Department for Education and Employment's working party on reducing bureaucracy to be implemented.

A poll of motions for the Scarborough conference reveals teachers are most anxious to debate on teacher stress and the casualisation of the workforce.

Margaret Hodge, Labour chair of the Education and Employment select committee, is likely to find herself a hate figure for suggesting ending the long summer holidays and introducing a five-term year. One motion calls for industrial action to resist their introduction.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary, predicted a lively conference. He said:

"The NASUWT is the best of the teachers' conferences, addressing all the real issues. Unlike the others we don't make empty threats over action - but neither are we mice. When we decide there is good reason to take action, we do it."

Conference previews, page 6

Redesign the year, page 16

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