Too busy teaching to pick up litter

1st October 2004 at 01:00
It must be irritating for Geoff Brookes (TES Cymru, September 24) that the workload agreement has meant that some senior managers have lost a bit of control over telling teachers what to do, when to do it and how high to jump.

It must be frustrating that the majority of teachers' unions, support staff unions and the Government endorse the agreement. He must be really frustrated that the workload changes are statutory and contractual.

He says his school's office staff are shocked at the changes. Yet all schools were told five years ago by the then Department for Education and Science, in circular 98, to transfer all administrativeclerical tasks from teachers - quite a reasonable time period for management to plan and prepare office capacity.

He bemoans the passing of a (non-existent?) golden past when teachers did everything. The world has moved on. Teachers are now lead players in an education team focusing on teaching, learning and achievement.

For any team to be effective and successful there must be clarity in roles and responsibilities which, in part, is what the workload agreement is about.

I have yet to meet a teacher who treats support staff as a "dogsbody" or "gopher", but I agree that support staff are desperately underpaid. Unlike Mr Brookes, however, I recognise that the agreement will, for the first time, offer support staff recognition, a proper career structure, access to training and, hopefully, better pay.

He seems to imply that it is OK for teachers to be treated as "dogsbodies" and this attitude perhaps explains the resistance of some staff who stand up and exert their professional role.

It is easy for senior staff to admonish teachers for walking past a piece of litter, but next time, if the teacher replies: "I didn't see the litter, I was concentrating on teaching my next lesson," please consider if the reply is adequate.

In my opinion the greatest damage done to education is not teachers who are reluctant to pick up litter or do filing, but the very small minority of teachers on the leadership spine who say: "I'm sorry, I don't teach. I am far too important for that."

Paul Howard Davies 20 Poplar Close Coedpoeth Wrexham more letters 25

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today