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Meetings bl**dy meetings


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I got this from the NUT today. On its own it means nothing but if members take it up seriously it could mean a reduction in workload.

School by school in 2007, the NUT will support members in our campaign to reduce teachers’ working hours; remove excessive and unnecessary workload; and gain a better work/life balance for teachers.

This will be good for teachers, their families and the children in our schools. This follows the success in the Union’s workload ballot and the support members have given to the Teachers’ Workload and Working Time policy documents. Members will receive at their schools, more information about the campaign. Guidance will be given on the support available from the Union. Checklists will be provided to be used in consultation with colleagues to identify concerns and issues to be raised in their schools.

PARENTS’ CONSULTATION MEETINGS

The NUT Executive has agreed that where the pattern of meetings includes two meetings in a particular week, there should be one week without meetings to ensure the maintenance of an average of no more than one meeting per week. If, in any one week, there is a parents’ evening, then in that week there should no more than one further evening call on teachers, whether for parent consultation or otherwise. Parents’ consultation evenings should be taken into account when calculating whether there will be more than one evening meeting per week averaged out over a term. The Union’s guidelines to NUT school representatives will be amended on these issues. Updates on the Union’s guidelines will be published on the website www.teachers.org.uk.

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Fascinating insight into the workload of teachers in the UK - reminds me why I don't do that any more!

You might be interested to hear of the situation in my daughter's school (she's in the 9th class at the moment, which is the last year of secondary, compulsory school in Sweden).

Each term there's a parents' evening, most of which is devoted to propaganda from various school bodies about whichever subject is closest to their hearts at the moment (the benefits of teetotalism is the current one).

There's also a 15 minute meeting with her form teacher at which she goes through my daughter's progress in each of the 15 subjects she studies (i.e. we don't meet each teacher separately). These meetings are preceded for her form teacher by consultations with the teachers involved, and she usually has one or two sentences from each of them to guide her - like a school report.

Swedish teachers have their home phone numbers printed in the school catalogue, and it's expected that parents will phone the teacher at home if they've got anything on their mind.

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I remember a Canadian teacher telling me that it was written into the contract of teachers in British Columbia that they were "teachers 24 hours a day" and their conduct at all times was a matter for scrutiny.

This is old information and things may have improved.

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I think I'll file these comments to pass on to our members whenever they complain about the teachers' union in Australia.

Here in Tasmania, schools only have to hold one parent/teacher evening a year and each parent is not expected to stay for more that 10--15 minutes with a teacher; teachers have written into their award that they are not required to be "on site" more than 70 hours a fortnight, they have guaranteed maximum teaching contact hours of 40 hours a fortnight for secondaries and 44 for primaries (which we are working on to bring into line soon), we have maximum class sizes of 25 currently from Prep to Gr 3 and this current Minister has committed to raise that to Gr 7 by 2008, we have Long Service Leave which means three months paid leave every ten years, holiday loading which bring in an extra 17% on holiday pay and they are certainly not expected to reveal their telephone numbers or receive calls at home unless they wish to.

Next time any of my members moan I might politely suggest they go teaching in England, Sweden or Canada.

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In the 1970s the number of meetings was increased so that teachers could have more say in the running of the school. These were often described as “consultation” meetings. However, it soon became clear that in reality they were like Tony Blair’s “Great Debate”. It gave teachers to have their say but their views were just ignored. For my sins, I was involved in running some of these meetings for various LEAs when the government was thinking of introducing the GCSE exams and the National Curriculum. The teachers were fairly enthusiastic about these meetings concerning GCSE but when it came to the National Curriculum I was getting more and more teachers saying “let’s stop discussing this, just tell us what we have got to do.”

By the 1990s I was completely disillusioned by these so-called “consultation meetings”. To me, they were just a waste of time. Decision-making had become totally centralized (even heads were just doing as they were told). This was just a strategy of developing the false impression that teachers had some influence over government policy. They don’t and that is why successive governments have mucked up our education system.

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Well, I have to admit that is one area where we are no better off here! Consultation seems to mean: we'll ask you what you want to do and then we'll tell you what you're going to do. I suppose it all depends on the definition of consult, as in "consulting" a doctor or a dictionary. Perhaps we should insist on "negotiation" and "collaboration" rather than consultation.

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