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

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