Teachers' red tape rage

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Teachers believe they are wasting nearly three hours a day on paperwork and non-teaching activities, says a survey released yesterday.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, which carried out the survey, said that the Government's policy of target-setting was one of the new initiatives which threatened to submerge teachers in paperwork.

Target-setting is central to the Government's efforts to raise standards. Each school will set goals which will contribute to national targets on which the Government will be judged in five years' time.

But Mr de Gruchy said that target setting was becoming absurd. In one un-named school teachers had to write reports on children every two weeks in all subjects. "They then have to describe what each child is going to achieve in another two weeks, and then describe how they are going to move each child from where they are to where they want them to be."

The union's survey of nearly 12,000 teachers shows that they think around 15 hours of their 51-hour week are wasted on jobs that take them out of the classroom.

Teachers were asked to place a value on each of seven areas of work. Only teaching, lesson preparation and marking scored highly. They thought contact with governors was largely a waste of time and that communication with parents, except when a child had misbehaved, was often unproductive. Marketing, teachers said, was the biggest waste of time.

They suggested that the Office for Standards in Education, which supervises inspections, was one of the main reasons for administrative overload.

Union leaders accept that teachers must continue to carry out some of the tasks which they do not value highly but believe red tape could still be cut.