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Head teachers threaten industrial action over workloads.

Byline: RHODRI EVANS

HEAD TEACHERS have vowed to take industrial action for the first time in a generation unless the Government takes steps to cut workload by the end of the autumn term.

Delegates at the National Association of Head Teachers' annual conference in Torquay voted overwhelmingly in favour of the move.

The heads' union has traditionally shied away from threatening industrial action. But this is the second time the union has raised the possibility of industrial action in recent months, the first being a possible boycott on implementing a new pay system for teachers.

Earlier this year the National Union of Teachers, National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and Welsh teaching union Ucac backed a joint motion threatening industrial action unless the workload issue was addressed.

NAHT Cymru director Karl Davies has now said it is up to Education Minister Jane Davidson and UK Education Secretary Estelle Morris to tackle the problem.

``This is something that is not only relevant to Westminster but the National Assembly,'' he said. ``The reason that head teachers in Wales feel particularly strongly is that it impacts much more on the heads of relatively small rural schools.''

National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers Cymru secretary Geraint Davies said he was not surprised that heads were now calling for action. He said, ``Head teachers and school teachers are under immense pressure and this is a clear warning to the Government that the whole issue of workload needs to be tackled as a matter of urgency.

``Experienced teachers are no longer prepared to put their names forward for head teacher vacancies.

However Mr Davies said head teachers themselves could help to tackle the issue.

He said, ``Heads can do a lot in terms of reducing workload and bureaucracy and need to look at their own schools.''

Gethin Lewis, secretary of the National Union of Teachers Cymru, said all of the unions were concerned about the issue and called on the NAHT to work closely with the other unions to address the issue.

Last month, the School Teachers Review Body, which is responsible for advising ministers on pay and conditions, recommended that the working week for teachers should be cut from an average of 52 hours to 45 within four years.

A spokeswoman for the Assembly said the workload issue was being seriously examined.

She said, ``Whilst the teachers unions will be consulted directly by the Department for Education and Skills the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning in Wales has been actively involved in the debate on teachers' workload.

``The Minister gave evidence both in writing and in person to the STRB as part of its review and we will be ensuring that our views will be put forward in the debate that is taking place about the important principles set out in the report.

``The Minister has already said that she is supportive of the principles of providing time for lesson planning, preparation, marking and recording and for continuing professional development and that providing guaranteed time for the preparation of lessons supports our drive for higher standards''.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 7, 2002
Words:524
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