Workload deal will work

17th October 2003 at 01:00
Letters (TES, October 3) claiming that the workload agreement is doomed fail to realise that the changes are both overdue and popular with teachers.

Certain administrative tasks are now no longer part of a teacher's duties.

In 2004, teachers' obligation to cover for absent colleagues will be limited to 38 hours per year. In 2004, primary teachers will get at least half a day per week in school time for marking and preparation.

When the teachers' pay awards were not funded at all in the 1990s schools still found the money to pay the staff because it was a contractual obligation. So are these workload changes.

The extra funding this year was over pound;2.6 billion and though some schools experienced real difficulties the main cause was the increase in pay, especially the extra 5 per cent in increments caused by shortening the pay spine. That was done to improve retention of younger teachers and has succeeded in doing just that. There will be considerable increases in funding in 2005 to implement the free half-day-a-week for primary staff.

Most schools are implementing the workload reforms, the costs of which this year are modest. All these changes were sought in the talks by the teacher unions. They will allow teachers to concentrate on their teaching. The result will be higher standards. Other staff will be involved in helping teachers to be more effective.

This is a three-year programme and schools are not expected to implement all changes in 2003. Employers and government plan to see that schools get enough cash to implement the agreement in the next three years.

Graham Lane

Education leader

Local Government Association Smith Square

London SW1

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