Wales politics

NUT attacks Leighton Andrews over increased workloads

Leighton Andrews
Image caption The Welsh government said new procedures will take time to get used to

Wales' largest teaching union has accused Education Minister Leighton Andrews of political interference which is having a detrimental impact on teachers' ability to do their jobs.

The NUT says the new child development assessment plans (CDAPs) have increased teachers' workloads and kept some of them out of classrooms for weeks.

CDAPs were introduced this year to assess all new primary school entrants.

The Welsh government said new procedures take time to get used to.

NUT executive member and Neath head teacher Beth Davies claims children are going weeks without being taught.

"Political interference in Wales is having a hugely detrimental impact on the ability of teachers to do their jobs," she said.

"In many cases some of the initiatives that the Education Minister has implemented, such as the child development assessment profiles have left teachers unable to teach.

Reaching potential

"I have little doubt the public will be horrified to know that children are not being taught because the Welsh government are insisting teachers spend their time filling out assessments when children start school, rather than actually building a relationship with them.

"Teachers want nothing more than simply to be able to help children reach their potential.

"Sadly the bureaucratic burden being placed on teachers through unnecessary testing and evaluation, which is essentially an assessment of the job parents have done before children start school, is really threatening the development of children."

The main purpose of the profile according to the Welsh government is to provide a "baseline" of where the child is and the next steps for their development.

For the majority of children, that assessment will be made at around the age of three.

However, some children may not enter the foundation phase - and will not be assessed - until they reach compulsory school age.

The profile has been designed to accommodate the on-entry assessment of children between the ages of three and five.

Another teaching union, NAHT, has also expressed concerns about CDAPs and hope officials will look again at the initiative.

Anna Brychan, Director of NAHT Cymru, said: "This policy as it stands is a serious disappointment for many school leaders and teachers.

"The original, and welcome intention was to create one, consistent assessment scheme for Wales which could record, monitor and support each child's progress through the foundation phase.

"What we have actually got is an intensely bureaucratic and cumbersome recording process which does not fit at all neatly with the curriculum.

She added: "I do believe however that there is a willingness to engage with these difficulties amongst education department officials, so we are hopeful that progress can be made in addressing many of these issues."

'Positive feedback'

Unions say they will present new proposals to the Welsh government shortly.

"This is a new system and it is therefore inevitable that it will take time for practitioners to become familiar with the new materials and procedures," said a Welsh government spokesperson.

"However, we have received positive feedback from teachers and head teachers telling us that the profile is welcomed and has already become an essential tool in planning the next stage for each child's future learning and development.

"In addition, it should be noted that the system was developed in collaboration with local authorities and practitioners - it is not something dreamed up by government in isolation to the teaching profession.

"The concerns of the NUT have been noted, and the Minister has already made a public commitment to teachers that the government will be reviewing the early lessons from the roll-out phase of the child development assessment profile and will be prepared to adjust procedures in the light of experience."

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