Education Department recommends schools scrap full-time union reps

Guidance suggests that teachers working as reps should split their duties

Education Editor

Schools and local authorities have been told they should scrap any agreements to allow teaching staff paid by them to work full-time as trade union representatives.

A guidance document from the Department for Education says millions of pounds of taxpayers' money is being spent on funding teachers' trade union activities. It concludes: "No teacher funded by the taxpayer should work full-time on union work".

Ir says that it should normally be possible for them to carry out their trade union duties on just one day a week or less.

The report, which follows research from the Taxpayers' Alliance that around £14.5 million a year was spent on funding teachers' trade union activities, has sparked anger from teachers' unions who say that the funding of trade union representation can save schools money by settling disputes. The Taxpayers' Alliance research estimated the equivalent of 427 full-time teaching jobs were funded by trade union agreements.

"Teachers are paid to work in the classroom," said Schools Minister David Laws. "Clearly, effective representation of teachers can play an important role in our schools but taxpayers' money shouldn't be funding union reps to spend little or no time actually teaching.

"This advice has widespread support from the sector and will provide greater clarity, transparency and accountability about how this money is used and how it benefits schools."

The document says every head teacher who responded to a consultation exercise said trade union activities could be carried out in half a week or less. A majority of respondents felt 30 per cent of teacher trade unionists' time should be spent on teaching duties.

"All union reps should spend the majority of their time doing school based jobs," the guidance added.

Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, argued that research shows that facility time for trade union activities gives schools value for money. 

She said: "We believe that schools will continue to recognise both their statutory responsibilities and the value of facilities time which encourages the early resolution of disputes and avoids the costs associated with long disputes. This guidance is unnecessary."

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, added: "Today's Department for education advice is a one-size-fits-all approach and is simply not workable.

"The DfE's advice is an unnecessary obstruction."

The document has been sent to every local authority and governing body in the country but is not legally binding.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Senior Textiles / Fashion Technician

£22000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To contribute to the day-to-da...

Recruitment Genius: Health and Social Care NVQ Assessor

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: It is also essential that you p...

Recruitment Genius: ICT Infrastructure Manager

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Edinburgh city centre scho...

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£30000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An independent boys' school sit...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test