Bosses at a Birmingham college have dismissed union claims that it was planning to introduce unannounced spot checks on teachers carrying out lessons.
The University and College Union had threatened industrial action after accusing South Birmingham College chiefs of trying to force through unannounced lesson observations.
The union warned that if the Hall Green-based college did not withdraw the “spy in the classroom” plans immediately it would move towards balloting members over industrial action.
But college chiefs said they were completely “taken aback” at news of the possible action as they had no plans to scrap the five days notice they currently give before observers are put into classrooms.
And college principal Mike Hopkins also insisted they had notified local union representatives that random lesson observations were not being introduced.
The union’s regional official, Nick Varney, has now moved to settle the dispute.
He said: “The principal is giving us guarantees that he has no intention of implementing unannounced classroom observations.
“Indeed, he says, he will confirm in writing the current agreement he has with the union of five days.
“If we get that we will suspend our trade dispute.”
The University and College Union had previously issued a statement claiming that South Birmingham College was in breach of its own regulation and procedure agreement over the apparent introduction of “unannounced observations”.
It expressed its concern that this was a change of conditions of service and that its members would not accept the new rules being “forced” on them.
But Mr Hopkins said: “I am not even aware there is a problem.
“A week or so ago we had discussions with the unions about lesson observations. A question was raised as to whether or not we were continuing to give five days’ notice of when lessons were going to be observed.
“We said that nothing had changed and subsequently sent out clarification that we weren’t changing anything. So I was quite taken aback when I found out that the union was claiming to have a trade dispute with the college over this issue.
“I was notified in an email that one of the elected branch members was registering a trade dispute.”
Lesson observations are required of every college by government inspectors Ofsted.
Mr Hopkins added: “Our observations are generally managed internally. As a result of recent lesson observations, we have just notified staff of a substantial bonus of £1,000 to all staff who were given a grade one or two.
“I pride myself on talking to my staff and there has never been a problem, so I could not believe it when I heard reports of possible industrial action.”