Letters extra: The perils of the workload agreement

10th October 2003 at 01:00

As the spokesperson for the NUT in the City and County of Swansea I feel I must comment on the report in TES , September 26, about attempts in Swansea to implement the agreement on teachers' workload.nbsp;

In that report, the NASUWT seemed to imply that the object of the inter-union meeting held on July 14 was to prevent the agreement operating locally for six months. In fact, the Director of Education intended to ensure that the agreement could be properly implemented as soon as possible without disruption to childrens' education. This was a responsible and sensible position to adopt.

As the NUT negotiator at the meeting my position was clear. The NUT nationally had been the only teacher union which had refused to sign the agreement, principally because there was no money to implement it;nbsp; and any attempt to do so without a large injection of extra funding could result in unqualified teachers being put in charge of whole classes.nbsp;

What was even more clear at that meeting was that the agreement was quite unworkable locally. The unions representing support staff stated that their members could not take on the extra workload unless more of them were appointed and they were all paid more. Their position was supported by all seven teaching unions present.

Since nobody present had any idea how many extra support staff would be needed in Swansea to implement the agreement, the obvious first step was to do an audit of need in every school in the autumn term. The resulting cost could then be presented to the LEA and used as an essential element in the calculation of the annual education budget for 20045.nbsp;

Everyone present left the meeting with LEA officers believing that we had made the best of a bad situation. The teaching unions were aware that teachers' contracts were about to be changed in relation to the 2421 tasks but equally aware that the only alternative for September 2003 was to down tools and disrupt pupils' education. This was something the NUT locally was not, and is not, prepared to contemplate. Other teaching unions seemed not to have realised at the critical time of signing where the agreement - unfunded - was heading.

Peggy Georgenbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

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