If this is realistic, my name is Dali

4th March 2005 at 00:00
When I was at college I held the existential belief that life was absurd, but I grew out of it. Having read your article on the philosophical musings of the National Remodelling Team on how to implement the workload agreement ("Get into mood swing of reform", TES, February 18), it seems this absurdist view has now taken over the educational service in this country.

In November we contacted almost all the schools in Lancashire and asked for their views on the viability of the workload agreement. In particular we asked about the possibility of providing the 10 per-cent planning, preparation and assessment time that teaching staff and managers deserve.

The results were both worrying and salutary. Of 211 responses - in itself a record for a questionnaire which invariably ends up at the bottom of the average head's paperwork mountain - 206 believed there was not enough money promised to deliver PPA.

More importantly, 66 per cent said that to make PPA possible they would have to look for extra teachers; 35 per cent would also look for higher-level teaching assistants (but would like a map showing where to find them); and 50 per cent said they would have to increase their own teaching load.

Almost 60 per cent foresaw redundancies of teachers and ancillary staff.

This is in a local authority which passes on the funding it should, and in some years gives even more.

In 22 years of headship I have never known an issue which so exercises, worries, angers and demoralises headteachers.

The bottom line is that the workload agreement is supposedly an integral part of the Government's drive to raise standards - yet in many schools this will be a very black joke.

The National Remodelling Team's flowchart, which exhorts schools to "mobilise, discover, deepen, develop, deliver and sustain" as they undertake this journey of discovery to remodel their workforce, provides another Alice in Wonderland vision.

This philosophical twaddle would be funny if the issues were not so serious.

It underlines yet again the widening gulf between the decision-makers and the troops on the ground.

It is surreal - but perhaps after all I will wake up and find my middle name is Salvador.

Tony Roberts

144 Cop Lane



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