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Heads set deadline for workload cuts

Next week's NAHT conference will issue an ultimatum to ministers, write Clare Dean and Warwick Mansell

HEADTEACHERS will next week threaten not to co-operate over school initiatives unless ministers act to cut workload by the end of the autumn term.

Members of the National Association of Head Teachers are expected to use their annual conference in Torquay to issue their ultimatum to ministers. The association says it will ensure that any action does not damage children's education.

The move comes as unions and employers press Education Secretary Estelle Morris to pump pound;400 million into schools next term to convince staff that the Government is serious about cutting workload.

They want the money to go to governors in September, allowing them to recruit an army of support staff so that heads can take administrative tasks off teachers' hands.

The Government this week reiterated its enthusiasm for support staff in a letter to teachers but has not committed itself to extra cash this year.

The three largest classroom unions have also warned of possible industrial action in the autumn if workload is still a problem.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said:

"Administrative tasks have got to be removed from teachers from September."

The 350 delegates to the NAHT conference are expected to back a motion reaffirming the union's commitment to action designed to restore a proper work-life balance.

The motion calls on the national council to consider balloting members for action if the Government fails to come up with convincing strategies and funding to cut workload by the end of the year.

David Hart, the association's general secretary, said: "I would prefer to have a deal sorted out by the end of the calendar year but we cannot afford to have negotiations taking an interminable length of time.

"We can't have the teaching force still waiting by the end of December for a package which shows them that a reduction in workload is a reality and not just a mirage."

His association's delegates will be calling on the Government to accept that there is a teacher recruitment crisis which it must tackle.

They will be asked to back a motion demanding housing allowances for London, the Home Counties and other high-cost areas enabling teachers to live within easy travelling distance of work.

Funding will be a key issue with heads highlighting the huge disparity in budgets in different authorities (see story, below) and potential budget cuts.

Target-setting will be attacked as counter-productive and the Government's 14 to 19 Green Paper criticised for failing to meet its own aspirations and educational needs of young people.

Leader, 18

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