Nick Clegg launches bid to win teachers back to the Lib Dem fold

Deputy Prime Minister aims to rebuild appeal with public sector workers after Coalition cuts

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Nick Clegg will heap praise on public sector workers today as he tries to rebuild bridges with them before next May’s general election.

The Deputy Prime Minister will single out teachers for their “fantastic work” and launch a drive to cut their workload outside the classroom. He believes his Conservative Coalition partners have not shown enough gratitude to the 5m public sector employees.

Mr Clegg’s move will be seen as a pitch for support from teachers, among whom the Liberal Democrats have traditionally enjoyed strong support. Many have been alienated by the public spending cuts since 2010 and the Lib Dems’ broken promise over university tuition fees.

He will launch “the Workload Challenge”, under which teachers will be able to propose ideas to cut out “unnecessary work”. It will be followed by similar drives in other public services.

Mr Clegg will tell an audience of public sector workers: “You’ve had to make personal sacrifices – to keep more of your colleagues in work and protect essential services for those who need them most. I believe it’s time for us to stop the runaway train of bureaucracy in its tracks, giving our teachers more time to do what they do best: creating and planning the best possible lessons and experiences for our children.”

Teachers in England work an average 48 hours a week but only 20 hours are spent in the classroom. Problems cited by teachers include having to mark up to 100 books a day; providing excessive amounts of evidence for performance management and over-burdensome lesson planning and health and safety forms.

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