New year threat of old rows over work

25th December 1998 at 00:00
The new year will start the same as this one did - with threats of action over teachers' workloads.

The National Union of Teachers believes the Government's workload circular has been ignored and that education's new bureaucracy watchdog, the School Communications Unit, is not doing its job.

OFSTED inspections, the National Literacy Strategy and the introduction of information and communications technology, have added to an excessive burden, says the NUT.

The second-largest union, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, is already taking industrial action in one school and has held ballots in others.

Its latest workload survey shows an overall improvement of 20 per cent across the board, but primary teachers reported only a 14 per cent improvement. In primaries, a third of the respondents said the workload situation was unsatisfactory in lesson preparation and pre-inspection.

Brian Clegg, NASUWT assistant secretary, said: "We will ballot where negotiations with the head do not improve the situation."

In a letter to David Blunkett, the Education Secretary, Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the NUT, says the number of new tasks causing extra work for teachers is increasing: "In addition to the initiatives, many of our members have written objecting to excessive workloads arising from the introduction of the National Literacy Strategy," he said.

Mr McAvoy said his members were reporting an increase in demands arising from: the introduction of ICT, pressure to continue coverage of all curriculum areas in primary schools, workloads arising from record-keeping and marking and planning for OFSTED inspections.

"The Government must act to make its circular on reducing bureaucracy and workload work. There is no co-ordination to prevent certain sections of the Department for Education and Employment creating further initiatives."

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