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Education secretary David Blunkett
"We are asking teachers to make a leap of faith"
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Saturday, 15 January, 2000, 19:25 GMT
Teachers' anger over classroom assistants

A primary school classroom Teachers fear they will have even more to do

The education secretary plans to help out classroom teachers in England by bringing in a range of other adults.

David Blunkett David Blunkett insists he is not replacing teachers with less well-trained staff
Mr Blunkett's proposals would introduce adult assistants and technicians in secondary schools working under qualified teachers or "learning managers".

The new assistants, who would be less qualified than teachers, would take on a crucial role in helping to discipline pupils as well as setting up equipment and overseeing group work.

In an interview in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Blunkett was quoted as saying: "I am interested in extending the range of adults available in the classroom so that the teacher becomes a learning manager, able to develop their professional skills, and teaching assistants and technicians play a much more important role.

"People are never cheap but this is a very effective way of being able to modernise teaching in a way that uses the skills of teachers but recognises that there are other elements which are crucial to success."

'Leap of faith'

The Education Secretary told BBC Radio 4's PM programme on Saturday: "We are not talking about less teachers but we are talking about using them more effectively.

"Seeing them as professionals, taking a 21st century view of a classroom, and a school of the future.

"And we ask the teaching profession to take that leap of faith with us, into this new century, rather than constantly clinging to the practices of a 100 years ago."

'Policy of despair'

But the general secretary of the NASUWT teachers' union, Nigel de Gruchy, rejected the plans.

He said: "The government seems to have thrown in the towel on recruitment, judging by David Blunkett's interview proposing to substitute adults with unspecified qualifications for teachers in the classroom. It is a policy of despair.

"Trying to turn teachers into 'learning managers' is precisely the same mistake that was made by the now condemned progressive forces who tried to turn teachers into 'learning facilitators' in the disastrous 1960s.

"The belief that adults will re-impose discipline where teachers cannot do so is naive beyond belief."

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See also:
14 Jan 00 |  Education
Teachers to get 3% pay rise
22 Nov 99 |  Education
Funding doubts over performance pay
29 Nov 99 |  Green Paper
Teachers seek working hours limit
23 Sep 99 |  Green Paper
Merit pay for best teachers

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