Teachers to get time off work to prepare lessons

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The Independent Online

Teachers are, for the first time, to be guaranteed time off from the classroom to prepare lessons under proposals to be unveiled by a Government-backed inquiry next week.

Teachers are, for the first time, to be guaranteed time off from the classroom to prepare lessons under proposals to be unveiled by a Government-backed inquiry next week.

On Monday, the inquiry into teachers' workload is expected to put a weekly limit on teaching hours, giving all staff up to five hours off a week during the school day for marking and preparation. Teachers will be paid overtime if they cover for absent or ill colleagues, under other proposals put to the profession's pay review body.

The limit on hours in front of the class is contained in a draft final report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the management consultants appointed by ministers to investigate teachers' workload. It will be placed before leaders of all six teachers' unions on Monday and accepted in principle by ministers.

The draft, which will then be discussed by union leaders, employers and the Government, is likely to recommend contact teaching hours of 22.5 hours a week for teachers – five hours less than the average worked at the moment. It is also expected to suggest limits to the type of activities teachers should do – leaving jobs such as photocopying to the classroom assistants being recruited.

The report recognises that schools will need to take on extra administrative staff and teachers to make the proposals work. It will back assertions from union leaders that many teachers now work more than 50 hours a week during term time with additional hours during holidays.

The draft falls short of the demand by the three main teachers' unions – the National Union of Teachers, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers – for a 35-hour week. The unions had threatened industrial action, though not strikes, if this demand was not met. But the proposals are expected to be seized on as important concessions to easing workloads.

* The Church of England said yesterday that all new church schools should admit pupils of different religions and those of no faith. In its response to the White Paper, the Church, which plans to open 100 secondary schools within the next 10 years, says it is "committed to an inclusive approach to education and is opposed to the notion of segregation".

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