General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Heads to tell of fears for staff


29/05/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Irish News

Head teachers have grave concerns about the health and well-being of school staff, a conference will hear today.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) is demanding a halt to new workload initiatives to allow staff to focus their energies on learning and teaching.

NAHT Northern Ireland's incoming president David Canning will tell the union's annual meeting in Armagh that the "constant flurry of initiatives" is distracting.

Mr Canning said principals must be more selective in determining what was important for the education of children.

"We must ensure that schools are given the time and resources necessary to make sure that good initiatives are properly embedded in the system before moving on to the next good idea," he said.

"The employers owe a duty of care to all of the staff who work in our schools.

"We need to look at the work required of teachers and school leaders and to put in place measures to reduce the number of cases of ill health due to stress and overwork."

Surveys by NAHT and the Regional Training Unit have found that almost two thirds of principals believe their work life balance to be poor or very poor.

Marian McGreevy, outgoing Northern Ireland president, said that this was very alarming.

Principals had 70 different initiatives and workload issues on top of their teaching responsibilities, she said.

"Excessive hours are the enemy of creative leadership," Ms McGreevy said.

"As school leaders we expect the job to be demanding but in recent times the workload, unnecessary bureaucracy and paper pushing, is strangling the creative energy within schools.

"The Department of Education needs to stem the flood of new initiatives and paperwork.

"In many cases there is no real need or justification for the extra work foisted on to schools."



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