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Thursday, 9 April, 1998, 22:07 GMT 23:07 UK
Government moves to avert school strife
Schoolteachers say they are spending too much time with the wrong sort of books
The school standards minister Stephen Byers has moved to head off a summer of industrial action by the two biggest teaching unions.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) have voted to back industrial action, short of strikes, in protest over a mounting bureaucracy which teachers say is stopping them teaching.

Stephen Byers wants to head off industrial action by teachers
In an unannounced visit to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' (ATL) annual conference in Bournemouth on Thursday, Mr Byers promised action "within days" to alleviate their workload.

The Education Secretary David Blunkett is expected to announce details of a concerted assault on teachers' paperwork when he addresses the Easter conferences of the NUT and the NASUWT.

At the ATL conference Mr Byers said: "When the unions are fully aware of how the government intends to implement the recommendations of the working group, there will be no reason for them to take industrial action."

school 150
Teachers have promised not to disrupt lessons
Before meeting union leaders to discuss details of next week's planned announcements, Mr Byers said: "We want teachers to concentrate on raising standards.

"We don't want them to be diverted into becoming form fillers and paper pushers, which is all too often the case at the moment.

"To put it simply, classroom teachers must be educators, not administrators."

There was "no excuse", Mr Byers said, for any action which might disrupt any child's education.

Ministers welcomed the assurance given by leaders of the NUT and NASUWT, and the ATL, which has backed industrial action as a last resort, that none of it would interrupt classes.

"I believe these assurances. They have been made by honourable men," Mr Byers said.

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