Commenting on the proposals announcedby the government today to reduce teachers' workload, National Union of Teachers general secretary Doug McAvoy said:
'The pressing need is to reduce the excessive workload which is driving teachers out of the profession. Yet the government ignores this and announces measures which are too little and too late.
'I welcome the fact that the government is proposing guaranteed marking and preparation time but already it seeks to take back an hour a week to cover for absent colleagues. Without an overall limit on working time, a limit on teaching time and class sizes, and no lengthening of the school day, the government will be free to claw back more.
'The concept of a work/life balance has been enthusiastically promoted by government but it cannot bring itself to include that in teachers' contracts.
'Teaching assistants provide vital support in classrooms but they are not teachers. Teaching classes needs all the skills of qualified teachers. Parents will have a ready answer if asked whether they want unqualified assistants or qualified teachers teaching their children.
'The government is asking the theatre sister to take over the brain surgery. Parents will not accept such a proposal.
'The government is threatening to withhold the much hyped Brown investment in education if the unions do not agree to its scheme. The NUT will not be bullied into accepting changes which are not supportive of standards and which do not promote the interests of our children and teachers.
'The NUT's opposition will be understood and supported by parents and all teachers.'
THE GOVERNMENT'S GROUND BREAKING WORKLOAD REDUCTION PACKAGE WILL PRODUCE LONG OVERDUE IMPROVEMENTS BUT ONLY IF THE GOVERNMENT GIVES SCHOOLS THE CASH TO MAKE IT WORK SAYS NAHT
National Association of Head Teachers general secretary David Hart said:
'Today's government package is the best, indeed the only, chance of cutting the excessive workload besetting the teaching profession. Its ground-breaking proposals stand a real chance of giving heads and their staffs the tools they need to deliver a better deal for all those working in schools, and for pupils and parents.
'Guaranteed professional time for classroom teachers, and additional management time for our members, will be a real boost, not least for primary schools. A massive injection of support staff, bursars, technical assistants, administrative staff andclassroom assistants, will revolutionise schools.
'NAHT has always argued that the government's plans to recruit additional teachers are far too conservative. It will have to sell the new role for classroom assistants to a sceptical profession. But this is a once and for all opportunity to forge the sort of deal that teachers have sought for years. Any teachers' organisation that 'takes its bat away' and refuses to participate in hammering out an agreement will be doing its members no service at all.
'NAHT particularly welcomes the decision to set up a new Implementation Review Unit, under a panel of serving head teachers, to oversee the crack-down on bureaucracy and red tape created by government, its quangos and the local education authorities. This has been one of the major causes of excessive workload and needs to be eliminated without delay.
'Ultimately the success of the package depends on whether the government can convince schools that sufficient secure funding has been provided to make delivery of these radical reforms a reality. Heads will judge the government by this criterion and will be forced to give the package 'the thumbs down' if the money is self-evidently inadequate'.
Government proposals gives promise of jam tomorrow, says ATL
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has today responded to the government proposals on remodelling the teaching profession.
Commenting on the government plans which they have outlined in a document entitled Time for Standards: Reforming the school workforce, Gerald Imison, deputy general secretary said:
'These proposals are absolutely fundamental to teachers and will be very carefully scrutinised to see whether they enhance the role and status of teachers in their schools and communities or whether they are a quick fix to buy off overworked teachers.
'ATL members are already asking whether this is a backdoor solution to teacher recruitment problems. The challenge for the government is to show that it is a genuine attempt to build teams of professionals in schools and it can only do this by ensuring that it redoubles its efforts to fill teacher vacancies and adds more teachers on top. If it really is 'Time for Standards', then the government must put teachers in sufficient numbers, firmly at the centre of these teams. It is teachers who will be crucial in raising standards.'
Regarding the government plans on teacher workload, Mr Imison said:
'The '25 tasks' are not new and teachers are questioning why it has taken so long to get this far. The proposals are on target and are straightforward so why will some schools have to wait for nearly three years? More urgent action is vital'.
On the issue of cover, Mr Imison continued:
'Restrictions will be broadly welcomed, although the delay in implementation is once again, questionable.'
On excessive hours, he commented:
'ATL notes that the government will lead a campaign to bring down excessive teacher hours. A campaign against whom? The solution is in its own hands. Sufficient teachers supported by sufficient other non-teacher adults all protected by contracts, providing a worthwhile, well remunerated career structure working in well-led and well managed schools. The answer is in the hands of the government itself.
'ATL has long argued guaranteed that non-contact time is essential for all teachers, but particularly those in primary schools. This is only of real value, however, within the context of the overall working time of teachers. There is no point in guaranteeing this if it pushes up the number of hours teachers work outside school. The problem yet again is that this does nothing new for the overworked, overtired teacher in the classroom now.
'We welcome the proposals to make work/life balance contractual. It will want early discussions to take this forward.'
In conclusion, Mr Imison said:
'Once again, there is the promise of jam tomorrow, but this time we can taste the flavour. ATL would give David Miliband, seven out of ten so far. he devil is in the detail and there are crucial discussions yet to come before we can say the teacher workload problem has been solved.'