Review body rejects contract changes

Teachers’ leaders have welcomed the decision of The School Teachers Review Body (STRB) to reject sweeping changes to their contracts that would permit longer working hours.

Michael Gove wanted to scrap clauses in teachers’ contracts that limit the number of days they work, restrict the time they have to cover for absent colleagues and give them time out of the classroom for marking and preparation. He believed this would give schools more flexibility to open for longer hours.

The School Teachers Review Body (STRB), which looks into the pay, professional duties and working time of teachers in England and Wales, has rejected the Education Secretary’s changes, The Independent reports. It found that the clauses were “reasonable protection for teachers”, although it did agree to remove a list of 21 tasks that teachers should not do, including photocopying and exam invigilating.

Teaching unions described the decision as a major victory over the Coalition. “The STRB has delivered Michael Gove a huge blow by rebuffing his recommendations for further attacks on teachers’ conditions and pay,” the NUT’s Christine Blower said. “Michael Gove sought to persuade the STRB that the teachers’ contract undermined professionalism and that the provisions were over-prescriptive; he failed on all counts.”

However UNISON, the union which represents classroom assistants, has warned that it will lead to job losses amongst support staff.  “Asking teachers to do bulk photocopying and chasing pupils and parents for money is a complete waste of teachers’ time,” said UNISON’s national secretary for education Jon Richards. “The government has tried to compare teachers with doctors, a false comparison that fails to recognise doctors have powerful codes of practice. You would not expect doctors to collect money off patients for prescriptions.”

What do you think of the STRB’s decision? Share your views with the Eteach community!

13 thoughts on “Review body rejects contract changes

  1. Whilst I welcome this decision I am unconvinced that this will be the last time this is put before the STRB. Gove is a determined person and will seek to change teacher’s pay and conditions. I would remind him however that the teacher’s morale is at rock bottom. There isn’t one teacher I know that feels that teaching is a worth all the pressure and stress that is being caused at the moment. Constant change and moving of goal posts is driving many teachers out of the profession for good.

  2. Yet again Gove shows he has no common sense or even business sense. How can it make economic sense to have teachers carrying out clerical duties that currently cost schools £17-20 000 per annum? The workload changes were made for good reason – teachers are highly trained & skilled professionals who should be planning, teaching & assessing, not wasting time standing in front of a photocopier or chasing payments from pupils or any other task that requires no training. He states a desire to raise standards but his actions demonstrate his intentions to be precisely the opposite.

  3. I believe teachers and lecturers need to be vigilant against people like Gove and OFSTED. Both are enemies of the teaching community and they will try with all the resources behind them to destroy the teaching community. They would like to turn us into conveyor belt processors. Who will lose out: The students of course. Already students in the UK are severely disadvantaged and not because of the paucity of teachers but because of the paucity of the politicians and their sidekicks.

  4. I would be interested in hearing Goves justification for how a reduction in preparation and marking time for teachers could possibly contribute to the driving up of standards.

  5. I think that what it comes down to is a government desperate to make an impact, but without a clue how to make it positive. On the other hand, there’s been a long succession of governments over the decades, all trying to improve an education system which measures success according to pupils’ ability to be like all other pupils. Supposing this system achieved its highest aim for a cohort of Year 11s, all exam candidates getting top grades in English, Maths, Sciences and a modern language or two thrown in, with History, Geography and a classic as well; what on earth could a country do with a population of identical achievers?

    Uniformity simply doesn’t make sense; diversity does. As every child starts off in life as a unique individual, why not go with the flow, celebrate the uniqueness, and value the individual human being for their difference? Instead of ending up with a hord of social outcasts, as produced by this insane striving to get everybody to conform to an unrealistic notion of success, we would have a society of fulfilled individuals who feel that they’re meeting their purpose in life, and able to contribute to the benefit of the community.

  6. There was only one bigger fool in charge of education pre-Gove and they were also Tory i.e. Thatcher………………… however, until school teachers, FE lecturers and HE lecturers come together, ‘man-up’ and take on these clowns who appointed the thug Wilshaw to head up a failed quango then they will continue to walk all over the sector.

    As with the health service they rely on misplaced dedication ……….. pity the kids have to suffer, however, in the end it is the only way to take back control from the puppet masters…..

  7. Peter Brodie, how refreshing to read your comment. I suspect you are one of the very few teachers brilliant enough to work with those unique individuals whose way of learning is different from the way teachers are forced to teach. Most of the geniuses in history have had a learning disability of one kind or another, and that silly man Gove is sure-as-heck no genius! He is disabled in that he has no understanding whatsoever what makes a good teacher, a good education and a pupil who is achieving.

  8. Perhaps all of the misguided, unqualified politicians who clearly were in the bunch who were unable to listen during their education might like to forcibly be a pupil in an Asian education system. Bars on desks and battery farming at its best all so the massive populace will be content to fit zips maybe for 40 years straight without dissent. The British Education System is the best in the world. Leave it alone! Innovation and contribution to the world is why I am proud of my British heritage. Any dysfunctions within it can be attributed directly to successive governments without a clue between them.

  9. I agree with the other commentators, wholeheartedly, especially Peter Brodie. Gove, as most people in education agree, is a clueless idiot. As a parent as well as a teacher I have no interest in kids being taught by over worked, stressed out teachers. Does he really think that tasks such as photocopying, etc are a good use of highly qualified professionals’ time. As for invigilating?: Walking around an exam hall for hours on a teachers’ salary when you could be marking, planning, re-invigorating schemes of work. All of this will just lead to a lowering in standards. I know many excellent, hard working teachers considering other careers. Action does need to be taken, and yes, the education of some will be affected adversely (including that of my own children) but can you imagine what will happen long term if Gove gets his way? It doesn’t bear thinking about. These changes are not about raising standards, they are about cutting costs. Did anyone read the recent article in TES about how, in Japan, the government is committed to lightening teachers’ workloads to enable them to focus on planning and delivering excellent lessons, giving detailed and meaningful feedback to students – the important aspects of teaching? Never in my memory has there been anyone so immune to good counsel and ignorant of current research or blind to the low morale of teachers as Gove.

  10. Thank goodness for some support for teachers at long last. Well done STRB! Gove just wants free childcare for working parents and for teachers to take over the parenting of children completely. He also wants to keep his name in the papers constantly in order to realise his ambition to be Prime Minister! Children need the individual, unconditional love and support that only parents can provide. They do not need to be away from home for even longer periods of time. I am a little disappointed that 21 tasks like exam invigilation, bulk photocopying and collecting money have been returned to teachers. This is such a waste of their time and energy. These have been hard-won concessions over the years and it is sad to see even this regression in working conditions. It’s like asking doctors to file patients notes and make appointments!

  11. Hoorah! Yet another of Gove’s attempted “reforms” bites the dust! Well done, I say, to the STRB for protecting our contracts in terms of our working hours. I am, however, concerned about the removal of the list of 21 tasks that teachers should not do, which teaching unions fought long and hard over some years ago…not because teachers can’t or don’t or won’t do them (most teachers I know do, for example, still do much of their own photocopying and collecting of monies for trips, etc.), but (a) because standing in an examination room for an hour unable to mark or prepare lessons, or standing at a photocopier for an age doing bulk photocopying is a huge waste of a teacher’s time and of the skills they could be putting to better use, and (b) more importantly it will result in job losses…schools currently employ additional admin staff, support workers and invigilators to deal with these 21 tasks, who will now be phased out and join the dole queues!

  12. All teaching unions should join the NUT and strike next month. It’s the only language he’ll respond to.

  13. The only reason teachers were involved in the 21 tasks was because teachers’ time was free of charge – even the minimum wage can’t undercut that. Expecting teachers to again carry out these tasks shows contempt for the profession by Gove.

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