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Inspection postponed in red-tape boycott

TEACHERS are boycotting inspections at four universities in protest over the bureaucracy involved.

Protests by the Association of University Teachers at Leeds, Keele, Durham and King's College London have forced visits by Office for Standards in Education inspections to be put on hold.

Inspections at Warwick and Nottingham universities have also been affected.

The AUT boycott began in the spring as the association pursued a 10 per cent pay claim which also led to a strike at the start of this year's clearing round.

The union was this week close to reaching agreement with employers and is expected to suspend the action next week. But there has been no breakthrough on pay. Employers imposed a 3.5 per cent rise this summer.

Universities are also protesting over the new maths tests for trainee teachers, claiming they are a breach of trust with their students.

Teaching students will have to pass the numeracy test on June 1 next year to qualify as teachers. Resits will be held in late July.

From February 2001, maths will be joined by English and information technology.

The tests had not been announced when many students signed up for courses, and universities also fear they will have to meet the costs of this year's paper test. They say it will be so different from the future model it should be treated as a pilot.

"The Government seems intent on introducing these tests this summer," said Mike Newby, chairman of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers. "We will have to administer them. Who is going to pay for that? It's a gigantic job."

But a spokesman for the Department for Education and Employment said plans for the tests had long been known. "We'll be providing sample questions in February, which will give them plenty of time to absorb the kind of things that will be tested."

Leader, 14

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