Union bosses have threatened further strike action if new education secretary Nicky Morgan’s promise to reduce teachers’ workloads is not fulfilled.
The region’s National Union of Teachers (NUT) welcomed Morgan’s first speech at this week’s Conservative party conference, saying it was in direct contrast to the tone of her predecessor, Michael Gove.
Morgan spoke of teachers as “heroes”, praised their dedication and claimed she cared for each and every school.
She said her first priority was to reduce the overall burden on teachers and second to ensure that teachers spend more time in the classroom teaching.
However union leaders say Morgan’s “sentiments”, although welcome, must be translated into concrete proposals if they are to be taken seriously.
Vince Allen, Northern regional spokesperson for the NUT, said: “The union’s own workload survey points to a ridiculous amount of work teachers are expected to do to fit in with the Government’s practices and policies.
“I know of one teacher who’s husband was convinced she was having an affair because of the time she spent away from home doing work outside the classroom.
“Teachers are having to work unreasonable hours into the evening and over the weekend to keep up with the demands being made of them.
“Despite the minister’s welcome message for teachers, she has pledged to carry on all the controversial reforms of Gove that have added to teachers’ worries.
“We will put our proposals to the minister and depending on the progress made the union may or may not seek to take further industrial action. It will certainly not be ruled out.”
Addressing the conference in Birmingham, Morgan paid tribute to Gove’s “passion, conviction and leadership”.
In her message of support to teachers, she said: “If our school story has a hero, it is them. Sometimes perhaps we take it for granted. We forget that teachers are not just teachers: they’re also friends and relatives. Mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.
“And when I hear of teachers working late into the night marking books, planning lessons, preparing for inspections that may or may not come, I do two things: I marvel at their dedication. But I also think, there must be a better way.
“I don’t want my child to be taught by someone too tired, too stressed and too anxious to do the job well.”