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Last Updated: Monday, 21 March, 2005, 16:33 GMT
Teachers criticise 'sexist heads'
By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education reporter, at the ATL conference

Mary Bousted
Mary Bousted threatened strike action
Sexist head teachers' "cock of the roost" attitudes to female staff have been attacked by a teachers' leader.

Mary Bousted, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said "arrogant" heads were threatening to disrupt a deal to reduce staff workload.

The National Association of Head Teachers last week walked out on the deal between government and unions.

But Dr Bousted threatened strike action in schools where head teachers refused to implement it.

'Disreputable heads'

"There is a gender issue here. Quite a few male head teachers of primary schools like being cock of the roost and don't like the idea of their hens going out and getting their own professional development in their own time," she said.

Speaking ahead of the union's annual conference in Torquay, Dr Bousted also suggested some of the hostility faced by the Education Secretary Ruth Kelly had an undercurrent of sexism.

The workload agreement had been designed to provide more time for teachers to plan and prepare lessons and to reduce the burden of bureaucracy.

The NAHT's decision to leave the agreement was attacked by Dr Bousted as giving way to a "few vociferous refuseniks who are bringing the name of their union and many heads into disrepute".

"There is a certain arrogance among certain head teachers who think that the only answers are those dreamt up in their own schools," she added.

'Waste of space'

Head teachers had sufficient funding and support to introduce the workload reduction deal.

If they failed to carry out the changes this autumn, Dr Bousted warned her union would "take them on", including strike action.

The heads' refusal to continue with the deal was a "complete waste of space" and an example of poor leadership, she said.

David Hart, leader of the NAHT, rejected the accusations, saying that "to allege that this is some kind of gender issue is complete and utter nonsense. There is not a shred of evidence to support it".

The problem with the workload deal was the lack of funding for its implementation, he said, and there were "just as many female heads complaining".

Mr Hart said the threat of strike action would not "alter the fact that hundreds of schools will find it virtually impossible to introduce the agreement".

He added: "I can readily foresee a winter of discontent across a large number of schools in this country".

Heads quit school workload deal
17 Mar 05 |  Education
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17 Mar 05 |  Education

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