Freed to teach but at a price

3rd June 2005 at 01:00
Teachers' jobs could be transformed under proposals to free them from all non-teaching duties, such as pastoral care and taking assemblies.

A submission to the School Teachers' Review Body by the Reward and Incentives Group (RIG), which includes ministers, four teacher unions and the employers, outlines plans to divest teachers of any duties not related to learning. The Government also proposed an annual 2 per cent pay deal from September 2006 to 2008.

Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, which is not a member of RIG, attacked the plans. He said it was important for teachers to give guidance on social and career issues, and be paid for it.

"You can't separate social needs and learning needs," he said.

The proposals are designed to shape the second phase of workforce reform.

The submission coincides with a TES survey of 545 schools which found that most will be able to carry out the first phase of the workforce agreement, but will not be able to pay for the cover needed to provide staff with half a day off each week for marking and lesson preparation in the following year.

The survey found that 88 per cent will meet the legal requirement to give teachers 10 per cent of their time away from their class each week. But only one in five said they would be able to do so after April, when the new financial year starts. To pay for cover, schools told The TES that they have had to set deficit budgets, use reserves, increase class sizes and cut back on other spending.

Just under 60 per cent of schools said they will have budget problems. More than one in four are having to cut staff posts to balance their books, and 136 support staff and 125 teachers' posts face the axe. If the poll findings are replicated nationwide, 3,500 support staff and 3,900 teachers could go.

The TES poll shows that heads want to use teachers rather than support staff to cover some classes. More than one in four heads said they would spend more time teaching. In three-quarters of schools, teachers will cover some PPA time for colleagues.

Less than half of schools are using teaching assistants to take classes, and one in five says higher-level teaching assistants will be used. One head said: "We want to provide an education and not just a babysitting service."

But Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, the second largest teaching union, said the funding for cover was available.

It is proposed that the second round of workforce reforms will be phased in from 2006 and the pay review body will report on the proposals in October.

But even unions party to the submission oppose plans to free teachers from all non-teaching duties.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said he believes most are unrealistic or undesirable.

news 4, Leader 18, leadership 23

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