New ways of working

WAYS of reducing teachers' workload currently being trialled in schools around the country include taking on personal assistants, bringing in outside experts and having online lessons.

The TES has been following the progress of 32 schools taking part in the pound;4 million "Pathfinder" project to experiment with ways to cut workload through their first term.

During summer 2002, the schools - 12 secondaries, 16 primaries, including four small schools and four special schools - were asked to draw up their own plan for reducing workload and then had to bid for the funds needed.

Langley Junior School, Plymouth, has already made history by being the first school to vary its timetable under new legislation.

On Wednesday afternoons pupils are offered a range of activities ranging from basketball to metalwork which are taken by outside experts including secondary teachers, while Langley's staff use the time for preparation, marking or meetings.

At Philip Morant technology college, Colchester, Essex, the Pathfinder project has helped fund a learning centre with 120 computer terminals with internet access. In the absence of a teacher, pupils can log on for lessons online which are taken under the supervision of learning centre staff.

And at Corsham primary, Wiltshire, five personal assistants have been taken on to relieve teachers of administrative tasks such as writing letters and ordering resources.

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