Teachers may get one day a week out of classroom

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The Independent Online

Teachers are in line for the equivalent of a day a week away from classroom duties under a blueprint for new working conditions drawn up by the Government.

In the document, obtained by The Independent, Estelle Morris, the Secretary of State for Education, firmly rejects union demands for a contractual limit to the number of hours teachers work a week.

However, she acknowledges the conclusion of a government inquiry that "up to some 20 per cent of teacher time could be covered by colleagues other than teachers", and calls for a greater share of administrative and supervisory work to fall to classroom assistants. The plans are outlined in a letter to the profession's pay review body designed to kickstart discussions over teachers' workload after last week's announcement of a 3.5 per cent pay rise for all teachers.

Teachers' unions have warned of industrial action unless a 35-hour week is introduced. But Ms Morris says she is "not persuaded" of the case for a cap on hours, favouring statutory guidance to schools saying teachers should "routinely" be given "professional time" away from the classroom.

Union leaders expressed "disappointment" at the plan. Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "The letter is far too nervous and far too reticent. [Ms Morris] seems to be shying away from the idea of a contract at every opportunity."

The pay review body is expected to produce a report on teachers' workload this spring. A working party, which will include government and union representatives, will then negotiate any changes.