EXCLUSIVE: Tories fight back after Clegg’s office claim teacher Workload Challenge was ‘his idea’

EXCLUSIVE: Tories fight back after Clegg's office claim teacher Workload Challenge was 'his idea'

A row has broken out between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats about whose idea it was to launch an initiative which invites teachers to help “stop that runaway train of bureaucracy”, Schools Week can reveal.

This morning deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, is speaking at Belleville Primary school in Clapham to launch the teacher Workload Challenge (click here for more).

When asked last night who would run the initiative, a spokesperson for Clegg said the Department for Education (DfE) would manage it.

However, he was keen to stress Clegg “came up with the [Workload Challenge] idea” and his team would continue to be involved with the DfE to “see it through.”

But the Conservative party has accused Mr Clegg of “claiming this as his own” after education secretary Nicky Morgan pledged to reduce workload at the Tory party conference earlier this month.

Nick Clegg claims it as his own. I guess you can draw your own conclusions from that

A Conservative source contacted Schools Week this morning and said: “Nicky Morgan has made tackling teacher workload her priority from day one. Nick Clegg has had four years to do something about this, but has done and said nothing.

“Then after Nicky makes a hugely popular speech on the issue, Nick Clegg claims it as his own. I guess you can draw your own conclusions from that.”

In response to the above comments, a spokesperson for the deputy prime minister said: “Nick Clegg has always been a strong and vocal supporter of the teaching profession, and made clear his commitment to tackling their workload in an interview with TES in August.

“He is pleased to be working with the Secretary of State for Education on this crucial issue. Teachers want to see all politicians coming together to find new ways to improve their working lives.”

The spat echoes a similar incident earlier this year over the universal infant free school meals programme, which was rolled out from September, between the two parties.

In May, schools minister David Laws and former education secretary Michael Gove had to write a joint letter to The Times stating there was cross-party unity on the scheme after a number of public rows between the parties on the subject.

The initiative will ask teachers to complete a survey on tesconnect.co.uk by November 21 and include questions such as: “What do you think should be done to tackle unnecessary workload – by government, by schools or by others?”

A new email address, workload.solutions@education.gsi.gov.uk, can be used to send additional information.