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Red-tape deal struck

Wales's new red-tape-busting panel of school staff says an agreement it has struck with the Welsh Assembly government should nip burdensome new policies in the bud.

At its inaugural meeting this week, the school workload advisory panel extracted a promise from the Assembly government that it will thoroughly scrutinise the potential impact of new policies on teachers. The panel will monitor how it works.

The decision mirrors one of the first initiatives introduced by the panel's English equivalent, the implementation review unit, when it was set up last year.

John Hopkins, the Welsh panel's chairman and head of Gwernyfed high school in Brecon, Powys, also said the meeting had highlighted a "misperception" over red tape which caused many teachers to produce more paperwork than is actually required, especially in preparation for Estyn inspections.

He added: "We've got to have a clear understanding of what is necessary and develop a culture where we ask ourselves, does this need to be done?"

The pound;60,000-a-year panel is one of the fruits of last year's agreement on cutting teacher workload.

Its remit is to advise on how red tape generated by government and other agencies, such as Estyn, education authorities and exams boards, can be reduced. But it has no powers to veto government policy.

There was little discussion of specific policies that are affecting teachers at this week's meeting. Panel member Karen Bibey, secretary at St Bernadette's primary school, Cardiff, said it wanted more feedback from schools.

Co-panellist Pat Clarke, head of St Mary's primary school, Overton, Wrexham, cited the introduction of breakfast clubs, data collection and foundation stage profiles of primary-age children as key issues.

She added: "We don't want this to be a talking shop, we want it to make a difference."

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