Headlines: June 18th, 2003

Contractual and legal changes have been published that will affect the daily lives of head teachers, teachers, and support staff across schools inEngland. The changes are founded on a national agreement between theGovernment, employers and school workforce unions, which was signed in January 2003, The practical application of the reforms have been worked out by the Workforce Agreement Monitoring Group, comprising representatives from all the signatories. The agreed contractual changes will now be subject to a formal 4 week consultation and, subject to Parliament, will become law from 1 September 2003.From September 2003, teachers will no longer have to undertake administrative duties, they will be given time for leadership and management responsibilities and will benefit from a new work-life balance clause that will help to achieve progressive reductions in their overall hours. These changes will help to free teachers from inappropriate and excessive workloads and boost the role and status of school support staff, allowing teachers to teach.

Starting in September 2004 a limit will be placed on the number of hours that a teacher can be required to cover for absent colleagues. This will be set at 38 hours a year. In September 2005 all teachers will be given guaranteed time within the school day for planning preparation and assessment. This should be a minimum of 10% of their teaching time. Head teachers will have dedicated time to lead their schools.

In a further move to support the National Agreement on workforce reform an eight point prospectus to boost training and qualifications available to support staff working in schools has been published. The aim is to double the number of places on an innovative pilot programme to deliver qualifications for 1,000 support staff in roles such as administrators, midday supervisors, and caretakers.

Other key development initiatives include the standards and training for Higher Level Teaching Assistants under development by the Teacher Training Agency, training for school bursars and business managers delivered by the National College for School Leadership, and the development of inductiontraining for all school support staff. Local authority employer and support staff union representatives have been invited to join a high level group that will oversee and advise on the development and implementation of the school support staff sector plan.