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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Teachers want 'swift action' on hours
Classroom
Workload cuts will take years to implement
Teachers have given a cautious welcome to proposals to reduce their workload.

But they warn that a swift implementation will be needed if it is going to tackle teacher shortages and recruitment problems.

A report from the teachers' pay body for England and Wales has called for a 45-hour week and guaranteed time for lesson preparation.

Doug McAvoy
Doug McAvoy sees the review as a step in the right direction

An alliance of teachers' unions is campaigning for a 35-hour week, but there has been broad approval for the pay body's conclusions.

But there are concerns about delays in implementation and the prospect of further rounds of consultation.

The government has made clear that this is a long-term plan, with no prospect of change being introduced in the new school year in September.

"We want a timetabled commitment, with dates rather than vague promises," said the deputy general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Gerald Imison.

The biggest teachers' union, the National Union of Teachers, has given the proposals a guarded welcome.

Eamonn O'Kane
Eamonn O'Kane is "underwhelmed" by the workload proposals

"The principles put forward offer a significant advance on which I hope we can build in negotiations with the government. The ball is now in the government's court," said general secretary, Doug McAvoy.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers has remained "underwhelmed" by the workload package.

"Some recommendations could be helpful; others are rather vague, and some quite unhelpful," said general secretary, Eamonn O'Kane.

"However, everything will now depend upon the willingness of the government to enter into a genuine dialogue on significant changes to the teacher's contract."

Stress

Consultant psychiatrist Eleanor Feldman wrote to BBC News Online to vouch for the sort of stress many teachers find themselves under.

"Over the years I have seen a disproportionate number of teachers who have had to take early retirement because they have been overworked and excessive pressures have been placed on them to the exetent that their physical health has broken down.

"All have been extremely hardworking dedicated conscientious people who have put the needs of others before themselves and struggled to keep going, ignoring their own health, and they feel very unhappy when they cannot continue to do this," said Dr Feldman, who works in an NHS hospital in Oxfordshire.

"Part of my approach to helping these people is to encourage them to relax, set limits on the demands being made on them, and not feel guilty about saying no."

Reports on the issue of teachers' workload in England and Wales

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