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Graham Lane, chair of the LGA Education executive and the National Employers' Organisation for School Teachers, is ...
Graham Lane, chair of the LGA Education executive and the National Employers' Organisation for School Teachers, is addressing a conference today urging LEAs to lighten teachers' workload.

'I am pleased to see that so many of you have been able to join us. Remodelling is a crucial area of work. Let me remind you where this part started. In 2001 some teachers were threatening industrial action over workload. They were refusing to cover for absent colleagues. The TUC became involved and the talks also involved Unison, TGWU and GMB. David Miliband, when appointed as minister, chaired a series of meetings involving all the lead partners over a number of months.

The plan was for all of us to agree to promulgate a new workload agreement to be implemented over 3 years and contract changes were to form part of this.

The key parts of the package are in 2003 the transfer of 24 administrative tasks from teachers and the introduction of leadership and management time, a 38 hour a year limit on cover for teachers in 2004 and 10% planning and preparation time for all teachers in 2005, including primary teachers. Full details are in the conference packs.

At the same time the employers were working with the support staff unions on developing the career structure for support staff. The Teaching Training Agency was asked to develop the concept of high-level teaching assistants.

Apart from the NUT we all signed to promulgate the agreement.

At the moment we are only in the first stage but evidence is that most schools are engaged now in this transfer of administrative duties. The purpose of this is to free teachers up to concentrate on teaching and allow support staff to do the administrative work such as bulk photocopying and collection of dinner money. Representatives of all parties are engaged in planning for the implementation of the 2004 and 2005 changes.

As the minister has reinforced, remodelling of the schools workforce must be a key priority for LEAs.

You a re represented through LGA and the national employers ??? NEOST - where foundation and church schools are also members.

The key focus for these developments is the Workforce Agreement Monitoring Group. This group is unique in bringing together central and local government and representatives from the support staff unions and most of the teacher unions. The WAMG bulletins are in the packs.

In my letter of 2 April, I urged you to replicate these arrangements at local level and to involve local representatives from governing bodies. You will not need reminding of the importance of governing bodies in taking this agenda forward in schools, particularly in relation to WorkLife Balance for heads.

I suggested that you should invite all locally-recognised unions. It does mean having the teaching unions and support staff unions in the same room to see how any problems can be solved. There are times when I expect the lead elected member for Education to chair some of those meetings just as the minister chairs some of the national meetings.

The NUT should be invited to those meetings. However, that is not meant to open up the terms of the national agreement but to see how it is to be implemented locally.

I do very much regret the fact the NUT did not sign the agreement because this agreement is in no way intended to replace teachers with teaching assistants. There will continue to be a qualified teacher responsible for every class.

The main aim is to assist in raising standards in our schools by allowing teachers to focus on their key duties. The second benefit is the elimination of excessive workloads. This is recognised as a key factor in recruiting and retaining teachers. The third benefit is to develop career structures to recognise the contribution of support staff.

The national agreement reinforced the important role of support staff in schools. The National Joint Council for Local Government Services will publish guidance next month, and the unions representi ng their members will be urging all of us to take this forward.

Unlike school teachers, support staff pay and grading is based on national and local frameworks. LEAs have a clear duty to advise schools and governors on how the changes for support staff can be implemented.

There are a number of national developments on training of support staff that are outlined in the pack. This has to be implemented locally. Schools should look to LEAs to provide local prospectuses of training opportunities for support staff.

LEAs will have to invest in supporting schools. I do not need to describe to you the current spending problems. You will know that LEAs have moved from being blamed for withholding money from schools to being actively engaged now in supporting the secretary of state's aim of providing a stable financial future for schools.

We have been advocating an earlier date for the announcement on the teachers' pay increases, the idea of a 2.5 year pay deal and the moving of the pay date to September. We do support the secretary of state in making an annual increase in teachers pay in line with inflation. But it will be even more important for the government to fully fund the increase.

I know that last January the LGA Conservative Group had serious reservations about the funding of the agreement. So do the other political parties. That is why we are determined to find solutions but the reforms mean all schools also have to analyse their priorities while we work with government to bring stability to school funding.

The reforms introduced in September 2003 were the first phase for a number of reasons. The comparatively low cost is one. This stage should have been in the financial planning of LEAs and schools since the agreement was signed in January this year.

Reports suggest that the first stage is going well in spite of newspaper stories that some schools are ignoring the changes. All LEA's in England have now appointed a key member of staff to take this wo rk forward. They are part of the support that the National Remodelling Team is providing for LEAs.

As David Miliband recognised, effective delivery needs to be achieved through effective partnerships. Effective implementation will require changes at a number of levels. Changing the culture of some schools will be a particular challenge. Teachers are managers of learning but many other staff play a vital role working with teachers in helping students to fulfil their educational potential.

LEAs are best placed to help to deliver these changes locally. Some schools will need challenging rather than simply suggesting changes to them.

You will want to start by pointing to the advantages of being fully involved in remodelling.

More advanced schools will be able to add to their recruitment incentives by pointing to the benefits of remodelling, for example:

  • We are a cover free school

  • Marking and preparation time is already more than 10%

  • Our WorkLife Balance policy has led to reducing the hours people are expected to work.

    Some may say

  • we do not have the 'power'

  • we do not have the money

  • schools do not want to do this

    I have in the past complained about the 'shadowy creatures' who determine policy. Such mythical creatures feed off whinges. They then turn into anti-LEA recipes. Such recipes are only enjoyed by the non-mythical vultures that gather round LEAs at the first sign of weakness.

    We justify our existence on the grounds of local accountability and local leadership. Remodelling is an opportunity to demonstrate what local leadership means on this critical part of the standards agenda. We as local government helped to start these changes. Schools are bigger than most private companies with a higher budget and more staff. Unlike small companies, schools have the advantage of LEAs providing support.

    LEAs cannot afford to be outside this debate on remodelling nor the next stage of policy development, which has been ou tlined in the Green Paper on Children's Services.

    No one is expecting you to follow national edicts. The remodelling package is about alternative strategies decided locally. You must have a key role in supporting schools in selecting options.

    I have heard some complaints about LEAs doing very little on remodelling. Anybody who says they have never heard of it must have been very busy doing something else. We have many examples of what actions different LEAs are taking on remodelling. We have two showcases here today. Nobody emailed them to tell them how to do it. They did not wait for a remodelling team to contact them. They invested time and resources in what is a natural progression of the role of LEAs.

    The next stages of the package will be more demanding.

    For some years the role of local government in schools as employers has been unclear but we are now part of this new group of social partners. Our schools, with a new combinations of staff, have to adjust to the needs of this new century. We now have a key opportunity to make a difference locally in making schools more effective in raising standards. The remodelling changes are to help that happen. We as elected members and appointed officials have to play our part in seeing these important changes through.'

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