Plan to cut ‘excessive’ teacher work announced by ministers

“Unnecessary and unproductive” teacher workload will be reduced with a series of “decisive measures” to be introduced in England, ministers have announced.

Changes will include an end to major government reforms being introduced during the academic year, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said.

The pledge follows the biggest survey of teachers undertaken in 10 years.

The National Union of Teachers said the measures were “simply insufficient”.

‘Browbeaten and under-valued’

Almost 44,000 people – the majority of them classroom teachers – responded to the Department of Education’s Workload Challenge survey.

They cited excessive amounts of time spent recording data and dealing with bureaucracy as factors which contributed to “unnecessary” or “unproductive” workloads.

Other reasons included unrealistic deadlines and excessive marking – with some saying they marked up to 120 books a day.

School

Teachers had been left feeling “browbeaten and undervalued”, said Mr Clegg as he announced the series of commitments alongside the education secretary.

They include:

  • Commitments by Ofsted not to change their handbook or framework during the school year, except when absolutely necessary
  • Giving schools more notice of significant curriculum changes, and not making changes to qualifications in the academic year, unless urgent
  • Tracking teacher workload by carrying out a “large scale, robust survey” in 2016, and then every two years

Ms Morgan said the changes would tackle the root causes of excessive workloads.

“It is no secret that we have made some very important changes in schools – changes that we know have increased the pressure on many teachers,” she said.

“We know there is no quick fix but we hope the commitments we have outlined today will support and empower the profession, and free up teachers to focus on what matters most in their jobs.”

‘Out of control’

However, the National Union of Teachers said teachers would be “bitterly disappointed” by the measures.

“At a time when the number of teachers leaving this proud profession is at a 10-year high, this announcement on workload is simply insufficient,” said general secretary Christine Blower.

She said the government should immediately tackle its “out-of-control accountability system”, which had “Ofsted at its centre”.

More than half of respondents said the perceived pressures of Ofsted inspections contributed to unnecessary workloads.

HM Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said Ofsted was working to “dispel some of the myths that may have led to unnecessary workloads”.

“It is very important that schools maintain a sense of proportion when preparing for an Ofsted inspection,” he said.

“If they are devoting their energies to getting things right for pupils, then an Ofsted inspection will take care of itself.”

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