Councils still to prepare for workload deal

22nd August 2003 at 01:00
More than half have failed to appoint staff to oversee reforms. William Stewart and Emily Clark report

MORE than half of England's local education authorities have still not appointed officers to oversee the reforms that will cut teachers' workload, less than a fortnight before they become law.

Under the school workforce reforms, support assistants will be expected to take over 24 clerical and routine tasks from teachers when the new term begins in September.

The Government has given LEAs a central role in ensuring the agreement runs smoothly. They were allocated a pound;15 million annual grant for this purpose and were expected to identify an adviser or "champion" who would help schools implement the changes.

But a TES telephone survey of 43 authorities this week revealed that 24 had yet to appoint a permanent member of staff. The failure has been condemned by unions who signed the workload agreement. They warned the Department for Education and Skills last month that some LEAs were not playing their part in preparing for the reforms.

All 151 English LEAs were informed of their duties in April when they were each allocated up to pound;200,000 to help implementation of the workload deal.

At the beginning of August, the DfES wrote to all authorities reminding them of their role and asking them to provide details of their "champions" to the National Remodelling Team (NRT) - the national body overseeing the reforms - by August 15.

But The TES has discovered that, several days after the deadline, at least nine LEAs have not even begun recruiting a "champion". One, Cornwall, does not expect to take anyone on until Christmas.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "If we are going to cope with all schools' needs then we will need a lead co-ordinator in every authority.

"It will be absolutely futile to pretend that we will not have many schools having great difficulty implementing the agreement."

Eamonn O'Kane, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "Those LEAs that haven't made appointments are simply falling down in their duty to help make this agreement work."

Graham Lane, Local Government Association education chair, said: "The reason these appointments have been delayed may be because of the summer holidays. It is important that they are put in place after all the money for it has been provided by Government."

The TES struggled to get a clear picture of the situation when it asked the remodelling team, part of the National College for School Leadership, how many authorities had complied with deadline. A spokesman initially said all 151 had provided a "contact" for the team and were now in the process of appointing a "permanent remodelling adviser".

When asked how many councils had actually appointed someone permanent to oversee the reforms, the team claimed the officers acting as contacts would become the 151 permanent remodelling advisers and would be training with the team in September.

Finally, however, it emerged that this was untrue. A week after The TES's original enquiry, the remodelling team's assistant director Howard Kennedy admitted that they did not know how many permanent appointments had been made.

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