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UNIONS AND EMPLOYERS MAKE FIRST EVER JOINT SUBMISSION - AS STRIKE BALLOT STARTS

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For the first time, teacher unions and the local government employers today make a joint submission to the School T...
For the first time, teacher unions and the local government employers today make a joint submission to the School Teachers' Review Body for changes to teachers' contracts to limit the excessive workload they face.

The unions and employers call for an effective cap on the current open-ended demands on teachers' time. It says that the current excessive workload, with teachers working 53 hours a week on average:

- has an adverse effect on teachers' ability to sustain their commitment which is essential to maintaining improvement in standards

- has an adverse effect on teachers' concentration on classroom teaching

- has an adverse effect on the performance of management roles

- is a further barrier to recruitment and a key factor in worsening retention rates

It calls for changes which would mean:

- a maximum number of teaching hours

- defined time for professional duties such as marking and preparation

- limits on duties relating to teaching and management

- effective capping on the current open-ended commitment

The document calls for piloting of a series of proposals starting in September this year and for an evaluation of the pilots to be presented to the Review Body in October 2003. The aim is to have new contracts in place by April 2004.

Commenting, Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said:

'I welcome this unique joint approach. For the first time, the employers and teacher unions are speaking with a single voice to provide a solution to the damage caused by excessive workload. There must be nationally agreed limits on the demands made on teachers. It is essential that teachers see the process starting very soon, together with the necessary resources.

'The government has acknowledged the need to deal with teachers' excessive workload. It must therefore recognise that such change does not come free and begin the process of releasing resources to re-assure teachers that it is serious about improving their lot.'

LONDON ALLOWANCE STRIKE BALLOT STARTS TODAY

Ballot papers are being distributed today to 41,000 members of the National Union of Teachers throughout London and adjacent areas for a strike on March 14 in protest at inadequate allowances to meet the additional cost of teaching in and around London. Ballot papers must be returned by Monday 4 March.

If the strike goes ahead it will be the first capital-wide action since November 1972, when Margaret Thatcher was education secretary.

The allowances are:

CurrentFrom April 1

Inner London£3,000£3,105

Outer London£1,974£2,043

Fringe £765 £792

The new allowances represent an increase of just 3.5 per cent.

Mr McAvoy said:

'Just as in 1972, schools in London and the fringe areas are struggling to recruit and retain sufficient teachers. Our schools are doing all they can to protect pupils from the effect of teacher shortages but many children are still being denied the high quality education their teachers want to provide because sufficient teachers just cannot be found.

'The rate of teacher turnover in and around the capital has never been higher. Teachers come and stay for a short time, then move on. They cannot afford the high cost of living forcing schools to rely more and more on supply staff to fill vacancies.

'Thirty years ago our case for substantial increases in the allowances was ignored until we took action. The education secretary ignores the plight of schools throughout the capital and beyond by accepting the Teachers' Review Body formula of waiting for an examination of the methodology of funding local government.

'Our pupils, our schools cannot wait that long.

'A clear message must be sent to the education secretary through support for this strike on March 14.'

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