Education news

Teaching union urged `profound changes' at all levels

The National Education Union has been involved in industrial action over pay for almost six years

A teachers' conference will today hear calls for "profound changes, at all levels" to the education system.

The National Education Union, which includes members of the ATL in Northern Ireland, is meeting in Belfast.

The union has been involved in industrial action over pay for almost six years, including action on "needless tasks".

Regional secretary Mark Langhammer will tell delegates that work-to-rule is primarily a protective measure to allow teachers to limit their workload to things that matter.

"Teachers do too much nugatory `weighing and measuring'. They live within a hyper-accountable system - all to no good end," members will be told.

"This is indicative of a low-trust, low discretion culture in schools that is widespread. Our children are tested, assessed, tracked, monitored, and examined to exhaustion.

"Performance managerialism and high scrutiny accountability kills creativity. Teachers have to control and protect their valuable time in the face of such practice."

The education system, he will add, is small and served by "a high-quality cadre of well-trained, bright, teachers".

"Despite this intimacy, there is a low consensus around what our system is for. Arguably we have too many schools, too many school types and sectors. We remain largely segregated by communal affiliation and by social class, particularly in the post-primary phase. It is overly contested, notably by the selection issue.

"As a consequence, the space for professional discretion is limited and prescribed, confidence to create and experiment is doused. Trust is low and mindless performance managerialism fills the vaacum."

The industrial action, members will hear, can only be resolved by "a radical shift towards a better and more trustful accountability and a vastly increased professional ‘space' to exercise careful, informed, researched pedagogical judgements and to nurture the young people in our care."

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