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Monday, 16 September, 2002, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
Teacher workload deal struck
classroom
Teachers say they need more time to plan lessons
A deal to reduce teachers' working hours has been agreed between the government and teaching unions.

The Department for Education said a "process and timetable" was agreed in meetings last week in a move which could head off fears of strike action among teachers.

NASUWT cartoon on workload
The issue of workload has long vexed teachers' unions
But both the department and the unions declined to give details of the "unanimous" agreement, saying they had decided to keep them under wraps for now.

The issue of teacher workload has been a long-running battle, with the unions threatening to take strike action if working hours were not reduced.

In May, the School Teachers Review Body - which is responsible for advising the government on the profession's pay and conditions - said teachers' average working week should be cut from 52 hours to 48 within two years and to 45 hours after four years.

The review body also said teachers should have guaranteed "non-contact" time for preparing lessons and marking.

'Drift in talks'

The secret agreement struck last week comes after the National Union of Teachers (NUT) wrote to the Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, urging her to bring to an end the "drift" in talks on teachers' workload.

NUT general secretary, Doug McAvoy, said it was vital the government reached a "concrete agreement" with teacher organisations and employers by the end of October.

"I am concerned about the government's refusal to acknowledge the need for early improvements, or 'early wins', in teacher workload," wrote Mr McAvoy.

"I hope this is not an indicator of current drift on this issue."

The Department for Education hit back at claims that it was drifting on the matter, saying it was determined to work with the unions on settling the workload issue.

"We met the unions just last week and unanimously agreed on a process and a timetable," a department spokeswoman said.

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

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08 May 02 | Education
01 Apr 02 | Education
30 Mar 02 | Education
26 Mar 02 | Education
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