Another week, another
attack from Michael Gove. This time he’s set out for the School Teachers’ Review
Body (STRB) a list of the next attacks that he wants them to recommend:
This time it’s about slashing our working conditions, on top of cutting our pay
Cut costs – Rip-up
teachers' contracts – Make them work even longer
evidence to the Review Body runs to over 100 pages. However, it can be summarised
in one sentence: Gove wants to remove every significant contractual workload protection we
have in order to cut public spending.
a large section of the evidence is about the economy: “The UK’s fiscal vulnerabilities argue strongly in favour of
maintaining a credible path of deficit reduction. Despite significant progress
since 2010, the UK is forecast to have the largest deficit in the EU in 2013/14.
Among the G7, only the US and Japan are forecast to have larger deficits in
2013/14. Uncertainty in the global outlook reinforces the case for stability in
the Government’s plans for fiscal consolidation. Clear and credible
consolidation plans remain essential for reducing the risk of a costly loss of
market confidence in the UK”.
In other words, the cuts aren’t working,
so we’re going to keep on cutting.
states clearly enough that the “Secretary
of State’s objectives for the reform of teachers’ terms and conditions are:
• to provide both teachers and
headteachers with greater freedom and flexibility to determine how they can
best serve their pupils and schools and fulfil their responsibilities
• to give schools as much freedom as
possible to manage their resources effectively and efficiently so as to improve
their practice and outcomes and achieve better value for money”
In other words, budgets will be cut,
jobs will be lost, and teachers are going to be bullied into working even
harder and even longer.
should a ‘professional’ need contractual protection from excessive workload?!
Apparently, “Detailed central
prescription of what teachers and headteachers should do and how they should
spend their working time limits the scope they have to demonstrate their
course, “detailed prescription can limit
a school’s ability to make decisions about how teachers are deployed and so
restrict its capacity to get the best value from its teaching staff and use
their skills to achieve maximum impact for their pupils”.
In other words, remove all contractual
protections – then we can make teachers work until they drop – then replace them
with another victim to be worked until they can take no more as well.
time to a chance just to go to the toilet or make a cup of tea
says, “There is evidence that the
principle of PPA time for teachers has been welcomed, but that the current
provisions are overly prescriptive in their approach, requiring schools to
allocate it in half hourly blocks and on a weekly basis. This is unhelpfully
restrictive for schools that are seeking to manage their teaching staff and
plan their timetable as effectively and efficiently as possible. We believe the
STRB should consider recommending the removal from the STPCD of the detailed
specification of how PPA time should be allocated”.
In other words, there might no longer be
any properly timetabled non-contact time, just the chance for a quick break
between lessons, meetings and other duties if you’re lucky.
holidays, longer hours
says: “There is a strong case for a
reform of the current working time provisions in the STPCD to give schools more
scope to determine how they organise the school day and the school term in the
best interests of children, parents and teachers”.
The words are clear: “We believe the
STRB should consider removing the central specification of teachers’ working
days and hours from the STPCD”.
don’t worry, Gove is on our side really:
“If the current overall limits on working time were removed from the STPCD,
this would not mean that teachers and headteachers had no protection - the
Working Time Directive would continue to apply” ... “which provide for an
average weekly limit of 48 working hours and minimum rest periods of 20 minutes
per six hours worked; 11 hours per day, and one [un]interrupted break of 24 hours
every seven days."
This is an attack on education. How
exactly could teachers be expected to prepare, plan, assess, provide high
quality education (and perhaps even occasionally sleep!) with that kind of working
* Update: In practice, as the Working Time Regulations state that the 48-hour average has to be calculated over a 'reference period' of 17 weeks, which would include school holiday periods, even these limits could not be enforced during a working week in term time
No right to a
clear lunchbreak – and sack the lunchtime supervisors of course
the existing national STPCD conditions, “Teachers must be allowed one break of
reasonable length ... between 12pm-2pm” and “No teacher may be required under
their contract of employment to undertake midday supervision”.
Gove says: “Removal of [this] provision would enable headteachers to be more flexible in
their timetabling” and “might make it
easier for headteachers to cut costs by requiring teachers to undertake midday
invigilating examinations – and sack the invigilators of course
is out of step when compared to other high status professions in setting out in
statute a list of tasks that it would be considered inappropriate for one of
its members to perform ... In the context of exam invigilation, for example,
the involvement of a teacher who is known to the children could be less
stressful for them than engaging another member of staff who they don’t know”.
covering for absence – and sack the cover and supply staff of course
“We believe schools need to feel confident
that they can legitimately ask teachers to provide cover for colleagues and that
greater flexibility would be welcome. ... We recommend that the STRB considers
the removal of “rarely cover” from the STPCD”.
Remember, your reward
for all this impossible workload will be earning less for a worse pension too:
“The Government is therefore clear that any changes to
public service pensions, including the progressive increase in contributions
from 2012-13, do not justify upward pressure on pay”, plus, if a school ‘restructures’ your post and/or removes your allowances, “we would wish the STRB to consider the implications of reducing the period for which safeguarding is payable or removing the safeguarding provisions entirely”
Read it for yourself ...
... but don’t weep – organise, rally,
march and strike!