Teaching union set to vote on strike over workload

The National Union of Teachers are set to debate strike action today.
The National Union of Teachers are set to debate strike action today.
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TEACHERS ARE set to vote today on strike action over claims current working conditions are “intolerable”.

Members of the NUT at their annual spring conference in Brighton are expected to discuss how workload, staff shortages and funding pressures are putting teachers under strain.

The NASUWT is also holding its conference over this weekend.

During an NUT motion listed for today, teachers will be asked to consider whether to “build a campaign to persuade members that national strike action will be necessary to bring about changes in the intolerable working conditions, and lack of work-life balance, created by current Government policies”.

The motion states the growing staff shortage is partly “fuelled by the double whammy of record numbers of teachers leaving”, sometimes due to stress, and lower numbers of people looking to get into the profession.

It also cites rising pupil numbers and reduced funding as contributing to teachers’ burgeoning workload.

Members will be asked to consider whether to “campaign vigorously” using all available means to warn that unless the workload issue is resolved, “education in Britain will face a crisis in the years ahead”.

Last month the Government’s official spending watchdog found key teacher recruitment targets had been missed.

The National Audit Office found teacher shortages were growing, particularly in poorer areas.

Its report, as an example, found just over one-in-four physics lessons at secondary school level were being taught by staff with only as much as an A-level in the subject.

The Government, in response, said 1.4 million more pupils were being taught in schools rated good and outstanding compared with five years earlier.

Concerns about teacher workload are not new.

A report by the NUT in October 2015 found more than half of its members were considering leaving the profession in the next two years - with workload and the desire for a better work-life balance the two main triggers for quitting.

The survey found that two-fifths (39 per cent) said they suffered low morale, while 53 per cent were considering leaving in the next two years.

A majority (73 per cent) also said they believed current policies for the school curriculum and pupil assessment were “narrow and uncreative”.

The union said teachers were working anything up to 60 hours a week.

The Government launched its workload challenge survey in October 2014 to gauge staff satisfaction with the amount of time they were able to spend in the classroom.

Launching the survey, Nick Clegg, the then-Deputy Prime Minister, said teachers ought to be freed from “burdensome workloads”.