Union wants paperwork cleared

17th October 1997 at 01:00
Teachers have threatened to boycott the Government's target-setting plans if they cause an excessive workload.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, responding to a survey of 12,000 of its members, found that more than half of their time is already taken up with activities which they do not believe contribute to effective teaching. Form-filling, national curriculum testing and Office for Standards in Education inspections are already sources of discontent.

The survey found that secondary teachers work 50.4 hours per week, with primary teachers completing 51 hours. Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary, said: "Teachers continue to feel extremely frustrated at the amount of pointless paperwork and mindless meetings. The Government's working group on bureaucracy is very welcome and its importance should not be underestimated."

But if the working group's report, expected by Christmas, does not solve the problem of paperwork by Easter, the union will consider industrial action over the summer. The NASUWT successfully mounted a workload boycott in 1993 and takes credit for a review of the national curriculum.

This time it could be the bureaucracy associated with target-setting that could be hit. Mr de Gruchy said some schools expect two reports a term on each child. He said any action would be "client-friendly" hitting form-filling, not pupils.

The survey echoes a recent sounding of National Union of Teachers members in showing that, despite the change in government, teachers still feel swamped by many of the same concerns.

It makes depressing reading for a Government that is promoting inclusive education, with schools and local communities working together to improve standards. Contact with parents was rated by the respondents as largely a waste of time. Contact with governors also rates poorly.

Mr de Gruchy said there was concern that target-setting would involve duplicating and triplicating the same information between schools and councils.

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