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Union calls for audits boycott

The NASUWT claims the extra work involved in key stage 3 checklists adds to an already unacceptable workload and is calling on teachers to refuse to do them. Julie Henry reports.

TEACHERS have been told to boycott audits of maths and English departments that are part of the Government's drive to raise standards in secondary schools.

The boycott was announced by a teacher union as Education Secretary Estelle Morris published the first national targets for 14-year-olds.

As The TES revealed in March, the strengths and weaknesses of English, maths, IT, science and foundation subjects will be scrutinised over the next two years so that schools can improve teaching and learning at key stage 3.

Heads of maths and English have a 15-page document to fill in this summer in readiness for the literacy and numeracy strands of the strategy which go nationwide in September.

Schools are also expected to complete a checklist of 15 instructions this term. It includes setting individual targets for 2002, arranging training days and setting up visits to primary schools to observe lessons.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers has advised teachers not to do the audits because they are adding to unacceptable workloads.

By 2004, three-quarters of teenagers will be expected to achieve level 5 in English, maths and information technology. In science, the target will be 70 per cent. It was proposed that the maths target would be 80 per cent but ministers reduced the figure following consultation.

The gesture does not go far enough, according to heads' associations, who claim shortages of maths and English teachers will undermine schools' ability to reach the milestones and threaten the whole KS3 initiative.

But the Government said that the strategy was the key to helping schools achieve the new targets. Sue Kirkham, head of Walton High School, Staffordshire, one of the 200 schools piloting KS3, said although the audit was time-consuming, it provided detailed information and focused teaching.

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