Memorandum from NASUWT (TU 02)
The main concerns of NASUWT in relation to teachers
and the education service are as follows:
This has been a serious problem for more than
10 years. The Government acknowledged the problem when it issued
Circular 2/98 (Reducing the Bureaucratic Burden Upon Teachers)
in June of that year.
The Circular led to some temporary short-term
improvements. These were soon overwhelmed by the continuing tide
of Government initiatives. NASUWT argued that more effective remedies
were needed, particularly in relation to the teacher's contract.
NASUWT is pleased to note that very recent developments
culminating in the Secretary of State's letter of remit to the
School Teachers' Review Body in respect of the Supplementary Report
on Teacher Workload, gives teachers genuine cause for optimism
that some effective remedies are just around the corner.
Again, NASUWT long ago drew the attention of
the Nation to this escalating problem. It was not that long ago
that NASUWT was the lone voice calling for action to deal with
an extremely serious problem.
NASUWT is pleased to note that over the last
couple of years there has been a marked shift in Government and
informed public opinion. The problem of serious misbehaviour on
the part of a small but growing minority of youngsters was something
that had to be treated far more seriously than it had in the past.
Unfortunately, during the early part of the
Government's first term of office, between 1997 and 2001, the
problem was made worse by some aspects the Government's policy
on inclusivity, which was simply unrealistic.
NASUWT has been pleased to note that the Government
is now taking a more realistic approach and is also providing
additional resources to help deal with the problem.
While there remain differences in detail, the
NASUWT is now more optimistic that progress on this issue should
become possible in the course of the relatively near future.
Teachers' pay has, for most years, been a matter
of contention. However, again, the NASUWT is pleased to note that
in recent years some progress has been made.
The potential for more progress exists but is
crucially dependent upon one or two particularly important matters
which might appear esoteric to the outside world. The operation
of the Upper Pay Spine for the post-threshold teachers is absolutely
crucial if the momentum for progress is to be maintained.
NASUWT has always accepted the need for some
process of external inspection. The Association found the earlier
models of OFSTED oppressive and extremely damaging to teacher
When the oppressive OFSTED regime was backed
up by various measures amounting to management by public humiliation,
the situation was made worse.
The NASUWT is pleased to note that progress
has been made in modifying the worst aspects of the original OFSTED
However, the Association is firmly of the view
that teaching is a profession which is now held monumentally over-accountable.
In addition to OFSTED there are numerous other ways in which teachers
are held accountable. One bureaucratic system has been piled on
top of another. It is one of the factors which has generated the
excessive workload problem. While some moves back towards commonsense
have appeared in recent times, embodied in the principle of "intervention
in inverse proportion to success", much more needs to be
put into practice on the ground, reducing the ways in which teachers
are held accountable to a much more simplified, slimline system.
The excessive accountability, which has now
been built into the education system, not only produces the workload
problem but also badly affects morale insofar as so much of the
work is being imposed from on high. There is no sense of ownership
amongst teachers. There is also a strong belief that much of the
work is both unnecessary and ill advised. Like many people, teachers
are prepared to work hard but prefer to do so in support of work
they perceive as central to their professional task of teaching
and conversely deeply resent imposed measures which are viewed
as bureaucratic and unnecessary.
The Bill currently before Parliament gives more
cause for concern to teachers. While there are some aspects which
teachers regard as positive, overall the Bill appears to be largely
unnecessary and the source of yet more change for which it is
difficult to see the justification.
Nigel de Gruchy