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EDITIONS
 Friday, 3 January, 2003, 16:07 GMT
Deadline looms for school reforms
classroom assistant
The government wants more support staff in schools
The government wants to seal an agreement with teachers to make major changes to the way they work but is facing strong opposition.

It has said it wants to strike a deal with teachers' leaders by 15 January to modernise teachers' contracts.

Ministers are reported to be ready to press ahead with the reforms with or without the agreement of all the unions involved in the talks.

The sticking point is the government's plans to increase the role of teaching assistants in the classroom so that they can take some lessons themselves.

Losing patience

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has come out strongly against this idea, saying people who teach children must be properly qualified.

But other unions representing teachers and head teachers are coming out in favour.

The NUT was angered by press reports suggesting Schools Minister David Miliband was losing patience and would impose the changes regardless.

The union's John Bangs said: "We have been engaged in constructive discussions and will be the last group to walk away from them.

"What would be incompetent would be if the government had an on-rush on impatience and imposed the plans."

Officials at the department for education are playing down talk of ultimatums.

A spokesman said: "All the partners are continuing to have constructive discussions an agreement to raise standards and tackle workload issues.

"They all share the view that there is now every prospect of an agreement being signed by all partners on 15 January."

See also:

17 Dec 02 | Education
22 Oct 02 | Education
18 Oct 02 | Education
16 Apr 02 | Education
01 Apr 02 | Education
17 Nov 01 | Mike Baker
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