Heads call for pound;1bn to ease workload

6th July 2001 at 01:00
Headteachers' associations demand more non-contact time and more help with the paperwork, reports Warwick Mansell.

HEADTEACHERS' leaders this week called on the Government to make a pound;1.1 billion investment in transforming the working lives of school managers and teachers.

In submissions to the Government's current workload review, the National Association of Head Teachers said ministers' drive to create a world-class education service would fail unless the "unacceptable" pressures facing school leaders were drastically cut. The claim was backed by the Secondary Heads Association, which also wants a "significant" investment in administrative support.

Both associations are against classroom unions' proposals for a 35-hour working week and in favour of a possible limit on the working year.

SHA, however, is bravely putting forward a plan to cut teachers' official holidays by five days, along the lines of the recent Scottish settlement. Teachers' official working year would be increased from 195 days to 200 and the extra time used for paperwork.

In return SHA wants a dramatic improvement in conditions which it says will cut workloads overall.

The NAHT is calling for an army of support staff to cut the administrative burden on school managers and classroom teachers.

By 2006, it wants ministers to recruit an extra 17,000 bursars and 28,000 extra administrative staff. This would enable every school with more than 150 pupils to have a bursar, or one for every group of five smaller schools.

There would be an administrative assistant for every eight classroom teachers. And the union wants the Government to provide an extra 21,000 new teachers over the five years, allowing more non-contact time for staff and freeing up heads for managerial duties. The proposals, which would be implemented "gradually" from next year, would cost an extra pound;1.124 billion annually.

The union has also published detailed proposed limits on the number of teaching hours worked by senior staff. Heads in all but the smallest schools would never have to teach. Even in these schools, the absolute limit would be 10 per cent of time spent teaching.

David Hart, NAHT general secretary, said that Labour's promise to deliver dramatic improvements in schools would founder unless it addressed "inadequate" staffing levels. Some 44,000 new teachers were needed for English and Welsh schools to match average pupil-teacher ratios in countries included in a recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development study.

Successive governments had demanded improvements incessantly over the past decade but with no major increase in staffing, he said.

Both the NAHT and SHA want ministers to measure every new initiative's likely impact on workload. SHA is also calling for a maximum of 20 hours a week contact time.

The submission comes after General Teaching Council members called last week for teachers to have more time for paperwork. The council wants ministers to make "every policy a retention policy" - assessing initiatives' likely impact on teacher morale.

Consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers are carrying out the workload review in 100 schools. This conclusion was extracted from ministers in the face of industrial action from the two largest classroom unions over teacher shortages in the spring.

The review will report to a steering group, chaired by Education Secretary Estelle Morris and including union leaders and employers, which is to make recommendations to the school teachers' review body by next January.

A Government spokeswoman would not say whether ministers would accept the proposals. The inquiry aimed to ensure that teachers did not have to deal with "excessive" bureaucracy, she added.

Mr Hart said: "We have been expected to deliver better and better productivity with the same labour force. That's got to stop."

Leader, 26


NAHT proposals:

* 21,000 extra teachers, annual cost: pound;420 million.

* 17,000 extra bursars: pound;340 million.

* 28,000 extra administrative assistants, pound;364 million.

* No limit on teachers' working week. Would consider limits on teachers' working year.

* Defined management time for school leaders * All new initiatives to be costed in terms of school leader and teacher time.

SHA proposals:

* No limit on working week. Would not oppose limits on teachers' working year.

* A "significant increase" in administrative and technical support to schools. Minimum of one administrative assistant or technical support staff for every eight teachers.

* Additional admin support for leadership team.

* Maximum class contact time of 20 hours for teachers. Guaranteed non-contact time for school leaders.

* Requirement for all staff to do one hour of cover lesson per week.

* Extra funding for schools in challenging circumstances to allow more admin support for teachers and lighter teaching requirements.

* Teachers to work five additional days, beyond the current 195, for "administration and moderation".

* Assessment system simplified, students to have external exams in fewer than four years of secondary school.

* Guidance to be issued on how teachers can reduce time spent on pupil assessment and reporting.

* All new initiatives to be costed in terms of teacherschool leader time.

* Schools to be made aware, in full detail, of all new syllubuses and other changes two terms before their introduction.

* No more than one meeting per week for teachers without managerial responsibility.

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