Conference talks on teacher issues

Union: Simon Jones
Union: Simon Jones
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Lancashire teachers are urging parents to get behind them to avoid industrial action - which could close schools.

Local members of the two leading teaching unions spent part of their Easter break debating classroom issues at their annual conferences.

The teaching unions are at loggerheads with the Government over plans to reform pay and conditions.

Both the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers have balloted for industrial action – which led to a one-day strike by the NUT last term.

At the NUT and NASUWT annual conferences, members discussed further action – which could see more strikes in the summer.

John Girdley, the county’s NASUWT executive member, said attempts to force schools to become academies was still a major issue in Lancashire, where the conversion rate is very low.

He added: “Workload is also a key issue, the latest survey showed that workload is up 12 per cent on the last one and the average primary teacher is working 60 hours a week.

“Considering that a lot of members are being encouraged to work to rule, and the average is 60, there are going to be a lot more doing 80 or more.

“That really is frightening.”

Simon Jones, the county’s executive member of the NUT, added that among other issues, the union was stepping up its Stand up for Education campaign by engaging with parents and politicians.

The use of unqualified teachers in schools is a bone of contention with all teaching unions.

The Government has come under fire for allowing academies and free schools to employ people without Qualified Teacher Status to take classes.

At the same time it has tightened up the academic criteria for people going into teacher training.

Mr Jones said: “Parents are telling us they are furious about it and feel they are being conned and misled.

“Parents absolutely see the need to have a qualified teacher.

“It is not just about academic ability but a whole raft of things including the psychology of teaching and engaging pupils.”