Working conditions 'in need of review'

The School Teachers' Review Body must not duck the issue of teachers' working conditions if the Government's performance targets are to be met, according to evidence put forward for next year's pay round.

A survey commissioned by the Grant Maintained Schools Advisory Committee shows that staff in 25 per cent of opted-out primaries have no time outside the classroom. Nearly 70 per cent have less than an hour non-contact time.

"This illustrates how difficult it is for team leaders to play their part in helping to raise standards by observing their colleagues in action and providing advice and support," says the report.

The survey shows that in the GM sector one third of primaries have at least one class of more than 30 pupils at key stage 1 and more than half at key stage 2. The committee concludes that a "fundamental review of conditions of service" is needed.

The review body in its last six reports has fought shy of setting down limits on class size or contact time, saying it was largely a management matter. But once more it is under pressure from teacher unions to address the issue.

Conditions as well as pay are putting off high-calibre graduates to the profession, the unions say. The average A-level results needed for a place on a teacher-training course are currently a grade C and two Ds and, with the demand for graduates increasing in the rest of the economy, the situation could get worse.

The joint submission also highlights the gender imbalance. Only a third of teachers are men: yet they are more likely to be given responsibility points, senior positions and headships.

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