Lawbreakers off the hook

11th February 2005 at 00:00
Hundreds of schools will fail to implement the workload deal in time. Joseph Lee reports

Hundreds of schools which are expected to break the law by failing to implement the workload agreement by September will escape official punishment.

Teachers' leaders reacted angrily to an admission from the agency in charge of the workforce reforms that schools which break the deal will not face sanctions.

Ralph Tabberer, chief executive of the Teacher Training Agency, admitted that the deadline for schools to guarantee teachers 10 per cent planning, preparation and assessment time will not be met.

"It's going to be challenging: there will be schools that don't get there," he said.

"We can use sanctions, but the approach that is being taken isn't about what sanctions we can use. It's about putting extra support in school."

Heads complain that they do not have the money to introduce changes and some are refusing to make savings by letting classroom assistants take classes.

A poll by FDS International for the TES reveals that a third of teachers do not believe the guarantee of preparation time will be met. Although 62 per cent of staff said the agreement was a good deal, nearly a third of headteachers said implementing it had made their working life much harder.

The National Association of Head Teachers will meet next month to decide whether to withdraw from the deal, after pressure from grassroots members.

Heads fear that even if there are no official sanctions, unions will take them to tribunals to enforce their members' new legal rights.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said a monitoring group of employers, unions and the Government had responsibility for policing the agreement.

"The TTA and schools would do well to remember that the deadline of September 1, 2005, is statutory. It is not optional or voluntary and schools have had two years to prepare for this change," she said.

She is backed by Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, who said last month that heads should "stop whingeing and start planning".

But Nick Walker, head of St Nicholas Church of England primary in Lancashire, said: "We're fed up with it being left to heads to sort out.

The Government wanted this, and it's a good idea, but is not prepared to fund it."

His school was likely to go over budget, because it has refused on principle to allow unqualified staff to take classes alone.

The school needs about pound;20,000 to hire qualified teaching staff to meet the agreement, but is expecting to receive only an extra pound;4,000.

North primary school in Colchester, Essex, is the first to refuse to implement the agreement, with the support of governors and staff.

"I have no desire to break the law but I am unable to comply with it and safeguard our students' education," Alan Garnett, the headteacher, said.

* joseph.lee@tes.co.uk

News 4, leader 22school leadership 30

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