Unions at a glance

Tes Editorial

Guidance bonfire leaves pupils at risk, warns union

The government's moves to cut health and safety red tape are leaving teachers and pupils at risk, the NASUWT conference heard. A motion that said the lives of children were being put at risk by reforms was unanimously agreed. General secretary Chris Keates said: "Over 140 pages of health and safety guidance for schools, including robust and detailed advice on protecting pupils on school trips, have been scrapped. This guidance provided schools and teachers with an important safeguard if things went wrong. The coalition government's decision to sweep away this advice could make teachers more vulnerable."

Teachers vow to fight for six-week holiday

Teachers have warned that they will resist any attempt to shorten the six-week school summer holiday. A move to cut the traditional summer break would harm children's learning and teachers' well-being, the NUT said. The union passed a resolution at its annual conference in Torquay warning that it will resist any national or local attempts to impose changes on the school year or day. It comes after NUT members in Nottingham staged a one-day walkout over proposals by the city council to introduce a five-term school year from 2013.

False allegations 'should be criminal offence'

Making malicious allegations against teachers should be made a criminal offence, NASUWT members agreed. The union's annual conference heard from Garry Marsh, a teacher in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, who was suspended for more than three years as a result of false claims. "As a teacher, mud sticks," he said. NASUWT executive member Trevor Morgan argued that existing criminal offences - such as wasting police time, perverting the course of justice and perjury - were already a deterrent and added that strike ballots in support of victims of false allegations were a better response.

NUT targets excessive workload

The NUT is to step up its campaign against excessive workload and will support teachers who want to ballot for strike action over the issue. In a YouGov survey of 852 teachers commissioned by the union, 71 per cent of respondents said excessive workload would be their main reason for leaving the profession. General secretary Christine Blower claimed that many teachers work more than 50 hours a week, which is affecting their home lives and mental health.

Call for SEN league table plans to be scrapped

Plans to introduce league tables to show the performance of pupils with the most severe special educational needs (SEN) should be scrapped, according to the NUT. Tables for children working below national curriculum level were suggested in the government's SEN Green Paper, published last year. Jenny Cooper, a teacher from Brent, North London, said the plans would undermine teachers' ability to offer "care and understanding" to the most vulnerable children.

Headteacher or 'Roman emperor'?

Teachers are being treated like children by dictatorial heads who behave like "Roman emperors", NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates has claimed. She said that some of her members in primary schools had complained of being forced to complete their marking and lesson planning on site, effectively in "detention", before being allowed to go home. "Professionals (are being) treated with less respect than classes... Heads are saying they must stay on the premises until 5.30pm, 6pm, 7pm," she said. Criticising the "breathtaking autonomy" of school leaders, she added: "Roman emperors were more accountable than headteachers in our schools."

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