Coming soon to a doormat near you

30th April 1999 at 01:00
GOVERNMENT glossies could soon be cluttering teachers' doormats, alongside American Express and time-share mail shots and those once-in-a-lifetime offers to win a million.

The Department for Education and Employment has asked for the home addresses of all teachers to build up a database for the General Teaching Council and the profession's Pensions Agency. But one union is concerned the information could be used to send teachers DFEE "junk mail".

The National Union of Teachers has told its members not to fill in the forms and has asked the department to shred any returns and send out new forms which include safeguards for teachers.

Doug McAvoy, NUT general secretary, expressed his concern in a letter to the DFEE:"Recipients should have been assured that information provided would be held securely and would not be divulged to any other persons or organisation for any purpose.

"I request formally the depart-ment provides this union with details of its data protection registration for the holding of the database it proposed to establish."

Schools were told the information could be used to send teachers "literature and information about teachers or educational matters of general interest". The DFEE is to send its own magazine, Teachers, as a mail shot. Mr McAvoy said he objected to taxpayers' money being used to send government "propaganda" to teachers' homes.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said:

"The normal way to contact teachers should be through their workplace."

A DFEE spokeswoman said: "I am surprised a union is trying to block something that is helping teachers to do their jobs better." She said the first copy of Teachers includes an opt out clause.

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