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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 26 March, 2002, 18:37 GMT
Teachers 'declare war' on workload
teacher doing paperwork
Teaching: Not a 9 to 3.30 job

Teachers of one of the most moderate unions in England and Wales have voted to put more pressure on the government to reduce their "excessive workload" - a move which could see them taking unprecedented industrial action.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) is the first of three TUC-affiliated unions to vote on the matter during their annual conferences over the Easter break.

The ATL members were unanimously in favour of working with other unions to press for better contracts of employment for teachers and support staff and, if necessary to ballot for action.

The union's general secretary, Peter Smith, said only improvements in teachers' contracts could "halt the haemorrhage" of teachers from classrooms.

"We will be keeping the pressure on the Department for Education and the Treasury to resolve the problems which continue to wear down the morale of the teaching profession.

"We reserve the option to ballot our members to back our discussions with action if we do not make progress towards a resolution of the workload issue," said Mr Smith.

'No time for a life'

Newly-qualified languages teacher Nick Brown told the ATL's annual conference in Cardiff how he loved his job, considered his pay to be fair and valued having job security and the opportunity to progress.

But he said the workload was the real problem, as he spent every evening filling out assessment forms, marking and doing other paperwork.

"I don't have time for a life, let alone a love life - I'm too busy marking."

Mr Brown, a languages teacher at the Frederick Gough School in Scunthorpe, admitted he was ambitious, but said that ambition should not mean being burned out before the age of 30.

"At the moment it's a lifestyle and I don't want a lifestyle, I want a job," he said.

Hank Roberts from Brent said it was time for a "declaration of war" against teacher shortages, high truancy rates, stripping teachers from other countries and having untrained people standing up in front of pupils - all of which increased the workload on teachers.

"We have to do something about it. Only collectively are we strong - we have to take them on and I'm sure we will," he said.

The NUT and the NASUWT will vote on the same joint resolution over the Easter weekend.

See also:

26 Mar 02 | UK Education
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