Headtachers claim that they have received 17 different circulars from the department for education and employment over the summer holiday break. As a result, hundreds of local authorities and schools are now subscribing to a document-summarising service operated by Bristol University's school of education, to save teachers from having to read them in full.
John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, predicted that the number of documents would continue to rise because so many government initiatives were planned in the coming year.
'Every new initiative means another round of paperwork for schools,' he said. 'Far from carrying out the promise to reduce bureaucracy, I can only see it increasing in the year ahead, with a new national curriculum, annual appraisal of teachers and a host of other programmes.'
Theresa May, the shadow education secretary, has also accused ministers of failing to live up to their promise to reduce red tape. In a speech to local authorities, she claimed that last year the DfEE sent out 322 'missives, documents, diktats and guidance' to schools.
A spokesman for David Blunkett, the education secretary, said that ministers were doing all they could to limit the amount of paperwork sent to schools. 'The government's first year of legislation meant there was no way to avoid a lot of documents going out to schools,' he said.
'Much of it was a legal requirement, and there would be as much criticism if we did not consult schools about our proposals.'