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Monday, February 1, 1999 Published at 09:11 GMT


Red tape 'wastes teachers' time'

Computers could cut down on times spent on paperwork

By BBC Scotland Education Correspondent Kenneth Macdonald.

Cutting time-consuming paperwork in schools would be the equivalent to hiring 1,500 extra teachers, says an official report.

Scotland's teachers are spending too much time on paperwork, says the report - the first to be produced jointly by Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools and the independent spending watchdog, the Accounts Commission for Scotland.

The report found teachers were spending between 15% and 50% of their time on paperwork and concluded that councils and schools should cut down on inefficient administration.

Among the recommendations were for more streamlined paperwork, better use of computers and more support for teachers, either by using more support staff or using classroom assistants.

The school inspectors say that moves have already been made to cut unnecessary paperwork. But they say that while the bureaucracy that remains is necessary, asking teachers to do it all is getting in the way of teaching.

Teachers' leaders have been complaining for years that a mountain of paper has been hampering education. They are likely to seize on this report as proof that they were right all along.

In England and Wales teachers' unions have been campaigning for a similar recognition of the need to cut bureaucracy.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers last year staged a 'Let Teachers Teach' campaign, which claimed that paperwork was interrupting effective teaching.

The government responded with guidelines to reduce unnecessary administration, but the union does not believe that the measures have gone far enough to lift the bureaucratic burden.

The union says it is difficult for many schools to implement a limit on paperwork when there is "a constant flow of new documents" and policies such as the literacy hour.

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