[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 April, 2004, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Moves to protect school trip staff
By Gary Eason
BBC News Online education editor, in Llandudno

Education Secretary Charles Clarke
Mr Clarke said the curriculum was wider than classroom learning
The government has promised to protect teachers from the "compensation culture" as it asks them to take more children on school trips.

The move is part of an effort to make education more interesting to children.

The Education Secretary, Charles Clarke, said he wanted to tackle the "scandal" of England's relatively poor staying-on rate past the age of 16.

The NASUWT teachers' annual conference heard he wanted to "dramatically increase" extra-curricular activities.


Mr Clarke said he believed the curriculum was much wider than what was taught in the classroom.

Family involvement was important - but good schools "vibrate" with extra-curricular activities, such as a jazz band before lessons, cookery club at lunch time, chess and football and dance after school.

He wanted to encourage all children to welcome the idea of learning.

But there was also a fundamental issue of social justice, in ensuring that all children had the same opportunities.

"I am a firm believer in being able to offer children some form of residential experience," Mr Clarke said.

It contributed to their self-confidence, resilience and independence.


But the growth of the compensation culture or blame culture meant that when things went wrong there was an idea that somehow the teacher was always responsible.

"I want to offer today, very explicitly and directly in the context of this broader curriculum, consultations about the concerns you are expressing," he told the delegates, who responded with applause.

The NASUWT's standing advice to its members is not to get involved in school trips.

Mr Clarke also stressed the need for teachers to have the opportunity to keep up to date in their subjects and have ongoing training.

The NASUWT conference, in Llandudno, was the only one of the big three Easter teachers' gatherings visited by Mr Clarke.

He pointedly snubbed the biggest union, the NUT, last year - and again this year said he had better things to do on Easter Sunday.

He told the NASUWT delegates he had been eating fish and chips and playing mini-golf in Lowestoft on Sunday.


He attacked the NUT, which alone of the main education unions has refused to sign the national agreement on reducing teachers' workload.

And he said it was "absolutely outrageous" of the NUT general secretary, Doug McAvoy, to suggest the government had "taken away the right of children to be taught by a qualified teacher".

The increased use of teaching assistants was not an attempt to replace teachers but to enhance their role by allowing them to focus on teaching and not have to do less mundane tasks.

It was "simply malicious" to suggest he wanted to reduce the number of teachers.

Responding to his speech, the NASUWT's deputy general secretary, Chris Keates, said teachers would support the idea of enriching the curriculum but there was too much rigidity in it at present.

And the changes must happen in the context of the workload agreement - with no "automatic assumption" that the extra-curricular activities Mr Clarke wanted could only be taken by teachers.

Later she said Mr Clarke's comment on school trips was "quite an interesting development" - but for now the advice to members remained "don't go".

Charles Clarke
"Staff deserve more protection from the blame culture"

Radical exams overhaul proposed
17 Feb 04  |  Education
Devolved education's separate paths
17 Feb 04  |  Education
How did Clarke's speech go down?
14 Apr 04  |  Education

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific