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'Jukebox Jury' judges policy

SOME have dubbed it a jukebox jury. But a new panel of teachers will not be judging records - instead they will tell ministers whether policies are a "hit" or a "miss" with schools.

From April the 12-strong "practitioners' panel" will raise the alarm if ministers' reforms prove a bureaucratic burden.

Unions and ministers hope that the move, one of the first concrete results of the workload deal, will help cut the mountain of paperwork generated by government initiatives since 1997.

The panel will be made up of nine heads, two classroom teachers and one school administrator or bursar, but no teaching assistant, despite their central role in cutting workload.

It will have a direct line to a "champion" in the Government. Stephen Kershaw, director of the Department for Education and Skills's school workforce unit, said he wants the jury to offer him "a serious challenge".

Mr Kershaw defended the decision not to include an assistant saying it was administrators who dealt with bureaucracy mostly but added: "We will make sure that all voices will be heard."

The panel will decide its own programme of work and publish an annual report detailing whether ministers have acted on its concerns. It will meet formally four times a year, talk to ministers and quiz officials.

Mr Kershaw said members of the National Union of Teachers would be welcome on the panel despite the union's opposition to the agreement.

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