Unions allied in fight to cut red-tape chores

THE country's two largest teaching unions will begin a work-to-rule next Friday against escalating bureaucracy in schools.

The action by more than 300,000 teachers will include refusing to chase absent pupils, write reports of more than 400 words or attend long meetings.

Members of the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers have received matching instructions.

An NASUWT ballot produced a massive 94 per cent vote - on a 40 per cent 'turn-out' - in favour of action.

The campaign follows the introduction of performance pay and annual appraisals, which the unions say will add to an ever-increasing workload. They say that, despite repeated promises, ministers have failed to cut red tape.

The NUT has been running a campaign since 1998 but is to relaunch it following a members' survey on performance pay which backed action against extra workload. Its existing boycott of appraisal is to end.

The new action marks an uneasy truce between the two unions, who fell out badly over the 1998 campaign. This time, their instructions to members are lmost identical. The "parallel action", should mean members will not come into conflict.

But a letter to NASUWT members takes a swipe at the NUT, effectively accusing it of jumping on the NASUWT's bandwagon.

It says it "remains sceptical of the motivation of the NUT" suggesting the campaign is a cover for dropping a conference decision to hold a one-day strike over performance pay. However, it accepts there could be benefits for teachers. NASUWT is to use the action to recruit new members.

Both unions have drawn on recommendations in the Department for Education and Employment's own circulars on red tape. Members will attend, on average, only one essential after-school meeting a week, lasting no more than one hour and with a proper agenda. Meetings should be dropped if a parents' evening is held.

Non-action plan

No more:

meetings over one hour

reports more than 400 words

practice OFSTED inspections

collecting money from pupils

chasing absent pupils or analysing attendance

photocopying, typing form letters, filing or stocktaking

lunchtime meetings

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