November 2002

TEACHERS TO TEACH?
SUPPORT STAFF TO SUPPORT?

The Government recently unveiled its proposals for reducing teacher workload.

It acknowledges that the 52 hour average week during term time needs to be reduced. It is not willing to write a maximum number of hours into teachers’ contracts, but has proposed measures that it says should reduce them to 45.

The proposals are at best a mixed blessing. They only repeat previous promises in relation to reducing paperwork. They actually suggest that teachers should be doing more lesson planning to increase the amount of differentiation.

They propose a new formulation for the cover that teachers can be required to do: 38 hours per year for all types and durations of absence.

They promise all teachers non-contact time equivalent to 10% of their teaching time by September 2005. But, unlike the deal in Scotland, this would not be achieved by increasing the number of teachers. Instead, this and other objectives would be achieved by the use of non-teaching staff.

The Government lists types of staff other than teachers that it wants to create or expand in schools. These are two of the categories:

"B. Roles involving contact with pupils and parents, but not involving teaching activity

Invigilators
Behaviour managers
Careers advisers
Learning mentors/advice and guidance
Cover supervisors.

C. Roles involving fuller contact with pupils and parents, involving teaching activity, subject to supervision by a qualified teacher
High-level Teaching Assistants
Sports coaches
Music and Drama specialists
Language assistants."

The "High-level Teaching Assistant" or "Cheap Teacher" as the role may become known smacks of Margaret Thatcher’s "Mums’ Army" proposals that the profession rallied to defeat in the 1990s.

Some of the other categories also threaten to replace qualified teachers with other cheaper staff.

These plans need the closest of scrutiny by teachers, and a very strong response. The relevant documents can be found on the "Teachernet" website at
http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/Management/staffinganddevelopment/remodelling/

ASBESTOS -
HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW, BACK AGAIN THE DAY AFTER!

Many members recently have received the worrying news that asbestos has been present in their school building when it was meant to have been removed. Local officers of Bradford NUT have been instrumental in bringing the problem to light and have been active in insisting that it is properly investigated and dealt with.

Before the re-organisation building programme

Bradford Council used its Asbestos Unit to identify asbestos in schools and remove it when necessary, ie when in a hazardous, usually damaged, condition. Asbestos registers which show the location of the material were produced for all schools.

During the building programme.

The Council gave responsibility for asbestos removal, in schools which were to be refurbished, to Bovis Lend Lease. Whenever Bovis’ sub-contractors came across asbestos they were to inform Bovis who would appoint a licensed company to remove the material under controlled conditions. Their work would then be checked by a second company, and a clearance certificate issued to the school.

The problem discovered

The NUT office received reports from the Asbestos Unit that they had carried out spot checks at several schools which had received clearance certificates and found that damaged asbestos had been left behind. We expressed our concern to Bovis and suggested that all the asbestos removal work should be re-checked by another, independent company. They brought in a firm to do this at the 47 schools where asbestos had been removed under their programme.

The Health and Safety Executive are at present investigating these events. At a meeting on October 25th they told NUT local officers that everything they had found so far constituted a very low risk - mainly because the debris has been left behind in places like ceiling voids and because it is in small quantities.

It is difficult to raise an issue like this without causing undue distress, but people obviously have a right to know about possible hazards to their health. The view of specialists from the Health and Safety Executive is that teachers and pupils in the affected schools have very little to worry about. Our view is that after asbestos has been properly removed from schools there should be nothing to worry about.

We were assured that the removal of all asbestos in a dangerous condition which was left behind would be removed during the October half-term holiday. If you have concerns about your school please contact us.

SCHOOLS AFFECTED:

This is a list of the schools where asbestos removal was initially undertaken, where a clearance certificate was issued, and where asbestos was subsequently found to have been left behind. (The list is not yet complete as information is still coming through). It should by now have been removed or safely encapsulated.

Buttershaw High, Cottingley Village Primary, Fagley Primary, Harden Primary, Holycroft Primary, Parkwood Primary, Priestethorpe Primary, Stanbury Primary, St James’ Church Primary, Usher Street Primary, Woodside Primary, Wyke Manor.

BRADFORD TO GO IT ALONE WITH THE 6-TERM YEAR?

Proposals to move to a 6-term year in Bradford have been under consideration for some time. Education Bradford has stated that consultation with teachers, unions and other interested groups will take place this term. Briefly, the plan currently being pursued is for a slightly earlier and shorter summer holiday, a two-week holiday in October, two weeks at Christmas, two weeks in April (replacing the existing Easter holiday), one week in February and one week in June.

It seems that no other authority is likely to change to this system, thus intensifying problems for teachers who work in one authority and have children in another, and for parents who have children at schools in different authorities. Remember one of the main arguments the Council used in favour of school re-organisation? Bradford’s system was out of step with the rest of the country!

If you or other members at your school hold strong views on these proposals please let us know so we can express them at the various meetings we have with councillors and Education Bradford representatives. The issue will be discussed at the General Meeting on November 12th.

Homophobic Bullying

Bradford Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Education Forum is a fairly new group of heads, governors, teachers, community police, school nurses, and other education and health professionals, that meets about every half term. The NUT is also represented.

Presentations have made clear schools’ responsibilities to combat homophobic bullying and have explored ways in which the problem can be brought home to schools. The next few meetings will concentrate on producing material for use in schools.

Anyone wanting to get involved please contact Jane Rendle at the NUT office.

Support for LGB pupils

Bullying is not the only problem Lesbian Gay and Bisexual (LGB) pupils may face. They may also feel that they are made invisible if the curriculum and pastoral support assumes everyone is heterosexual.

Schools need to address this. As a first step all secondary schools should display the poster giving contact details of Bradford Lesbian and Gay Youth (BLAGY), which is a confidential youth group. Posters were sent to all schools some time ago. If you want more ring 01274 744224.

...and Teachers

A support network for teachers is also being set up. If you would like details ring us and leave a contact number or email lgb@bradfordnut.org

 

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