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Talking point

Clive Swain, NUT, who retired as deputy head of Abertillery primary school, Blaenau Gwent, last summer: "I do not think parents are really aware that they will not have a qualified teacher taking classes and I don't think teaching assistants taking classes will affect teachers' workloads because they still have to prepare all the lessons."

Sheila Mountain, NASUWT, deputy head of Hardwick primary, Banbury: "My head still has teachers minuting meetings and more than one a week. Teachers are still putting up displays. There is no regard for work-life balance at all.

One teacher in my school goes in on Sunday morning to do the photocopying."

Norman Warren, NASUWT, physics teacher at Colchester Royal grammar, believes that properly trained higher-level teaching assistants should take classes: "If that doesn't happen then the workforce agreement won't happen."

Emma Bennett, NUT, reception class teacher at Richmond Avenue primary, Shoeburyness, Essex, on national tests: "You may have the next Charlotte Church or Linford Christie in your class but if they have not done well in their maths, English or science Sats they are seen as being no good."

Maureen Bellis, NUT, who retired as assistant head from Leighton primary school, Crewe, in summer 2003, said: "I do not think testing at key stage 1 is appropriate. Some children get quite stressed, I've had parents telling me their children have been wetting the bed or don't want to go to school because of the tests."

Yvonne Thirlaway, NASUWT, an English teacher at the Meadows special school in Biddulph, Staffordshire, said: "Our pupils have special educational needs so we emphasise teacher assessment. Why can't all pupils be assessed this way?"

Alison Morgan, NASUWT, special needs co-ordinator at Carshalton boys'

sports college, Sutton, who was once garotted with a piano wire by a pupil:

"Nowadays there is much more of a general pack-like behaviour of younger children unable to listen, be quiet, follow reasonable requests and demand individual attention."

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