Teaching union calls off action after a day

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THE largest teaching union yesterday announced the end of its industrial action over workloads, only a day after it started.

The National Union of Teachers said it accepted the contents of a draft Government circular laying out how heads should cut bureaucracy in schools.

Doug McAvoy, the union's general secretary, said once the guidance was sent out and schools complied, the industrial action would end.

The protest would only continue if heads refused to accept the Government's advice, he said.

The rival NASUWT union, however, decided to continue its industrial action, and reopen talks with ministers aimed at strengthening the Government's advice.

The circular says schools should only hold meetings after school if they are "clearly justified", and should limit meetings to an average of two a week.

It also urges schools to adopt model policies rather than re-inventing their own.

Reports to parents should also be restricted to one a term.

Mr McAvoy said: "It is a dramatic improvement. The sanctions we imposed were an attempt to get an agreement. That's standard trade union practice. Most agreements are a compromise.

"We will have members who don't like this. They have to understand that when a trade union imposes action, that is a means by which to gain improvements in working conditions.

"When that improvement has been gained, you can't continue the action."

A Department for Education and Employment spokesman welcomed the NUT's decision.

"The Government has been committed to reducing bureaucracy in schools since it established a working party last summer to work with teachers to ensure it does not get in the way of raising standards.

"We will shortly be issuing a circular to schools giving practical advice on how they can cut administrative burdens," she said.