Politicians given year to cut hours

Reducing teachers' workload was very much on the political agenda. Have we come any nearer today in making teachers' lives easier?

The first signs of the industrial unrest in store for a new government appeared this week with the second biggest teaching union threatening a fresh boycott over workload.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, warned politicians they would have a year to reduce workload. "If we can't get an agreement from the new government we will have to do things ourselves, we will have to ballot for a boycott and I imagine there would be a lot of support for it."

Workload is the subject of 14 motions to the union's annual conference in Bournemouth.

* A survey of 120 GM schools revealed universal hostility to Labour's plans to return the control and distribution of their funding to local education authorities. It also found strong resentment at being forced to take political appointees on to school governing bodies.

In a survey for the Grant-Maintained Schools Foundation nine out of 10 heads said all schools should be funded by a "fair" national funding formula.

More than 90 per cent of GM heads opposed Labour's plans to return revenue and capital funding to local authorities and almost eight out of 10 said they should set their own admission policies.

Four out of five also rejected any move to give councils the power to appoint people to governing bodies while 84 per cent backed GM schools taking control over other areas of responsibility such as home-to-school transport.

* Labour has welcomed proposals from the head of an independent school to forge partnerships with the state system. Martin Stephen, High Master of Manchester Grammar School, proposes that independent sixth forms should be open to state school students for specialist and minority subjects-Latin and Greek- and should use their expertise to help them to gain entry to Oxbridge.

* Labour has pledged to place arts education in schools at the heart of its cultural and educational strategies. It will create a national grid to share the nation's treasures with children on the Internet; schools and colleges will have to produce an arts statement and be able to bid to a new millennium commission to fund artistic activities for after-school clubs.

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