Headteachers in new cash plea

CASH-STRAPPED headteachers in Essex are complaining the Government is forcing them to bring in a new scheme aimed at cutting teachers' workloads – without giving them any extra money to do so.

CASH-STRAPPED headteachers in Essex are complaining the Government is forcing them to bring in a new scheme aimed at cutting teachers' workloads – without giving them any extra money to do so.

Over the next three years, headteachers must implement a new workload agreement aimed at reducing the amount of non-teaching work carried out by teachers.

The Government has listed 24 administrative tasks such as photocopying and chasing up pupil absences which should be taken away from teachers this September and passed to either office staff or teaching assistants.

From September 2004, the amount of cover provided by teachers when their colleagues are off should be pared back, by using more teaching assistants or supply staff.


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Then, from September 2005, headteachers must arrange for each teacher to cut their time at the chalk face by 10% to allow them to carry out preparation and planning.

"Super teaching assistants", trained to a higher level than existing teaching assistants, would supervise pupils during this period, which could be as much as two-and-a-half hours for primary school teachers.

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But although headteachers are in favour of the workload agreement, they are angry about having to implement it without any extra cash, said the chairman of the Essex Primary Heads Association north Essex branch, Howard Williamson.

"I am writing to Charles Clarke (Education Minister) to outline the complete dismay of our members about this.

"At our recent meeting every headteacher in the room said it's a completely unworkable scheme without extra money."

Phil Roberts, schools human resource services manager for Essex County Council, said the first phase of the scheme will be possible to bring in without any extra expense.

"We as an LEA are trying to implement it effectively against a background of legitimate budget concerns," said Mr Roberts.

Commenting about the workload agreement, Schools Standards Minister David Miliband said: "The National Remodelling Team, now with a presence in every LEA, is working to show how change can be delivered. Sometimes there is a cost; but we must not believe that every time schools do something differently, they need an extra pot of money. Change can liberate precious time; it needn't always

cost money.

"Our investment is staged over 3 years - to match the pace of reform. Teachers' contracts will change this September and change for the better; the September after they change further, with legal limits on cover, and in September 2005 we have the change that really costs and really pays, the introduction for the first time of guaranteed professional time for teachers at 10% of teaching time."

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