Union accepts red-tape cuts

8th May 1998 at 01:00
The NUT is appeased on the issue of bureaucracy - the NASUWT isn't. Sarah Cassidy reports

The National Union of Teachers has called off its industrial action over bureaucracy in schools after just one day of boycotting administrative work.

But the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, the second largest teacher union, is to continue the protest saying the Government has not done enough to cut red-tape in schools.

The executive of the 186,000-strong NUT has asked members to stop their boycott of administrative work after accepting draft proposals from the Department for Education and Employment.

But the NASUWT's executive said the Government had failed to meet their demands for a limit on document length and only one after-school meeting a week.

The draft circular, to be sent to all schools despite its rejection by the NASUWT, says two after-school meetings a week would be "sensible" as long as they have a clear purpose, agenda and time limit.

Nigel de Gruchy, the NASUWT general secretary, said the industrial action had liberated his members. "After years of imposition they are exercising their own professional judgment. They have rediscovered their personal lives. Their teaching will improve as a consequence. It is genuinely proving to be industrial action 'with a halo'. Not a single child is losing a single second of education.

"The executive rightly acknowleged that much good progress had been made on the frequency of pupil reports, preparation of lesson plans and for inspections and slimming down assessments and participation in target setting. However there were serious weaknesses in the document."

But Doug McAvoy, NUT general secretary, welcomed the proposals. He said:

"The circular provides clear expectations for teachers. Excessive workload caused by unnecessary meetings, too much paperwork, excessive preparation for OFSTED, and too many reports will end where schools implement in full the Government circular."

"There will be NUT members who do not like this, who would prefer to go on just attending one meeting a week. But they must understand that most agreements involve a compromise."

But he warned that action would continue in schools where heads did not fully implement proposals.

Estelle Morris, education junior minister, said: "While we are pleased the NASUWT has recognised the progress that has been made, we are concerned they have not as yet stopped their action in schools and hope they will do so quickly for the sake of the pupils and their education."

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