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Members to cut up rough over red tape

NASUWT forum sees calls for strike action, attacks on Blair and a touch of Hollywood. Clare Dean and Julie Henry report

MEMBERS of the second biggest teaching union are set to cut down on duties such as chasing absentees, administering exams or making classroom displays as part of industrial action in protest at escalating bureaucracy.

All indications are that the 180,217 members of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers will back the action that uses the Government's own advice on cutting down workload.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary, insisted the action would be pupil-friendly. "There will be no chaos in schools," he said. The call for the ballot, proposed by the union's leadership, was overwhelmingly backed at its annual conference in Llandudno, north Wales this week, where delegates protested at time wasted on form filling.

Dave Battye, a past president, said: "There are people in one school in my district (Sheffield) who have been asked to produce a 14-page document for every pupil they have taught - termly.

"Suppose you taught RE in that secondary school. You would teach every child in school. The concept i ludicrous."

Stuart Merry, from Kirklees, complained of having to go on several courses and produce a raft of documents to get a grant of less than pound;4,000 for loft insulation at his school.

The NASUWT shied away from a boycott of proposals for linking annual appraisal to pay and pulled back from attacking the Government for its lack of flexibility on the pay shake-up despite calls from some delegates.

Mike Heaney, from south Derbyshire, said: "Many teachers perceive us to be doing very little while other teacher unions are making all the noise. You are aware as activists that those noises will probably come to nothing, but they do make the six o'clock news."

The NASUWT is now offering full support and advice to members applying to cross the performance threshold. Daphne O'Kane, from London, said she had told all her eligible teachers to apply to the threshold. "It might involve more work for heads, maybe arguing with assessors, who knows? But who cares?

"This is one bit of additional workload I am delighted to embrace and I have no patience with any head who says any thing else. I say go for it, and good luck to everyone who does."

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