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Monday, 12 November, 2001, 17:17 GMT
Teachers pursue workload cut
The report wants to spread workload more evenly
Teachers could have a reduced number of classroom hours, with protected time for preparation, under proposals put forward by a review of teachers' workload.

And teachers could be paid to attend training sessions that would be taken out of the school day and put into the holidays or outside school hours.

Such proposals would place even greater pressure on staffing levels - and earlier on Monday, the education secretary announced that classroom assistants could take on a much wider role in schools.

The independent review, which followed industrial action over teacher shortages, has put forward a list of options for overhauling teachers' workload.

These include a contract setting out an upper limit on time in the classroom, and a range of ideas for protecting teachers from administration and non-teaching tasks.

This could include using classroom assistants to take over a wider range of tasks, such as supervising pupils who have had work set by a teacher and invigilating in exams.

Consultants have analysed the way that teachers' time is spent and looks at using non-teaching staff for tasks such as supervising children at playtime or during meals.

Schools could also shift training and planning into days when the school is not open to pupils, such as the holidays - with teachers to be paid for these sessions.

There were also suggestions that pastoral and welfare staff could be valuable in working with pupils with behavioural problems, giving teachers fewer discipline problems.

Intensive hours

A more effective use of information technology has also been suggested as a way of reducing the burden of administration.

The draft report, which has presented a range of suggestions rather than specific recommendations, is seeking ways of levelling off the peaks and troughs of teacher workload.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers report points to the overburdening of teachers within term-time, with the conclusion that teachers work more intensively than other comparable professionals.

And it has sought ways of re-structuring and re-allocating tasks so that teachers will have adequate time for planning and preparation.

Teachers' unions, which had earlier been lukewarm about the government's plans for classroom assistants, were divided over the direction suggested by the report.

Mixed reception

In particular, the National Union of Teachers welcomed "the proposal for a maximum number of teaching hours together with guaranteed time for preparation and marking".

But the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers said that it was "very disappointed with the report so far. It is not sufficiently focused on the right solutions".

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Associaton, also approved of the greater use of support staff, as long as they were not "plugging the gaps" during teacher shortages.

"Schools in the future will use support staff in many different ways and teaching will become a more attractive job if teachers are better supported than they are at present," said Mr Dunford.

See also:

12 Nov 01 | Education
Teachers promised support staff
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