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EDITIONS
Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Heads threaten work-to-rule
Paperwork
Bureaucracy must be reduced say head teachers

Head teachers have voted for a work-to-rule if the government fails to reduce work levels for them and their staff by the end of the year.

Delegates at the National Association of Head Teachers annual conference in Torquay said the extra workload generated by government initiatives had to be reduced.

Swindon head teacher, Susan Butcher, opened the morning's debate with a plea that heads should not be seen as whingers or cynics.

"We're all faced with the same problems - too many things to do and not enough time to do them," she said.

"If that time and space is not very soon apparent, we must be ready to take action to deal with workload ourselves in our own way."

Paul Sunners, also from Swindon, warned: "The threat of serious disruption in our schools must remain high on our agenda if workload is not reduced."

"Head teachers, deputies and assistant heads have a right to see their role supported."

Work to rule

NAHT general secretary David Hart said heads were considering a unilateral reduction of their hours and stressed the action would not affect pupils' learning.

"We're not talking about strike action, we're not talking about damaging pupils or antagonising parents. It would be a work-to-rule," said Mr Hart.


Negotiation and discussion - not industrial conflict - have taken the process forward

School Standards Minister, David Miliband
"But strength of feeling is running very high - they feel very strongly about workload."

If heads voted in favour of the action in December, it could see them refusing to co-operate with local authority and government initiatives, such as target setting and ethnic minority achievement monitoring.

But Mr Hart said he was confident a package could be negotiated with the government and any action averted.

"I don't think we'll reach that stage myself - we should get stuck into negotiation and should be able to agree a package."

New minister

Addressing the conference shortly after heads had voted for action over workload, the new Minister for School Standards, David Miliband, urged delegates to opt for negotiation at all costs.

"Negotiation and discussion - not industrial conflict - have taken the process forward and intensive work is now going on."

Last month, the body which advises ministers on teachers' pay and conditions, recommended their working week be cut from an average of 52 hours to 45 within four years.

It also said head teachers should be given guaranteed time in which to carry out their management responsibilities.

See also:

12 Nov 01 | UK Education
19 Mar 01 | UK Education
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12 Nov 01 | UK Education
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