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.”
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