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 Wednesday, 15 January, 2003, 13:33 GMT
Key points - and sticking points
classroom assistant
The use of classroom assistants is the big sticking point
The agreement on reducing teachers' workload being signed on Wednesday does not change everything immediately.

Its various measures are due to be implemented over the next two years as follows:


  • reduce overall excessive hours
  • routine delegation of 24 non-teaching tasks
  • new work/life balance clauses
  • leadership and management time
  • new limits on covering for absent teachers
  • guaranteed professional time for planning, preparation and assessment
  • dedicated headship time
  • new invigilation arrangements.
The agreement includes a seven-point plan for "creating time" for teachers and head teachers:

i. Progressive reductions in teachers' overall hours over the next four years. This objective will be promoted by all the partners and progress will be monitored and audited, including at school level;

ii. Changes to teachers' contracts, to ensure all teachers, including head teachers:

  • do not routinely undertake administrative and clerical tasks;
  • have a reasonable work/life balance;
  • have a reduced burden of providing cover for absent colleagues;
  • have guaranteed planning, preparation and assessment time within the school day, to support their teaching, individually and collaboratively;
  • have a reasonable allocation of time in support of their leadership and management responsibilities;
and that head teachers have dedicated time which recognises their significant leadership responsibilities for their school.

iii. A concerted attack on unnecessary paperwork and bureaucratic processes for teachers and head teachers, including in England through the establishment of an Implementation Review Unit;

iv. Reform of support staff roles to help teachers and support pupils. Personal administrative assistants for teachers, cover supervisors and high level teaching assistants will be introduced;

v. The recruitment of new managers, including business and personnel managers, and others with experience from outside education where they have the expertise to contribute effectively to schools' leadership teams;

vi. Additional resources and national "change management" programmes, to help school leaders achieve in their schools the necessary reforms of the teaching profession and restructuring of the school workforce; and

vii. Monitoring of progress on delivery by the Signatories to this Agreement.


The National Union of Teachers set out its principal objections in a letter from its general secretary, Doug McAvoy, to the Education Secretary, Charles Clarke.

He says he wants to continue talking and says the "imposed guillotine" for agreement of 15 January is "incomprehensible and wrong".

The sticking points are:

1.The NUT says the government should accept the proposal of the independent School Teachers Review Body for specific targets for cutting teachers' average total term-time weekly hours.

Throughout the negotiations, ministers have refused to put a cap on the working week.

2. The NUT says the government should accept the review body's recommendation that the planning, preparation and assessment time should fall "within the timetabled week" defined as "when pupils are present at school, excluding break and lunch periods".

It says the current deal talks of "the normal school day" - which is longer.

3.The union wants the government to accept the principle that whole classes should be taught by qualified teachers only or - within limits - by those working towards Qualified Teacher Status.

4. It wants a "teaching establishment" for each school, and an agreement that the employment of any teaching assistants would be on top of that.

5. It wants to delete any reference to "high level teaching assistants" working with whole classes, and to teachers with one or more assistants "covering a double-size group of pupils".

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

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