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Bin the pile of papers

A bureaucracy-busting panel has come up with an easy solution for despairing headteachers buried under mountains of paperwork: do what you must and bin the rest.

The school workload advisory panel (SWAP) has come up with some simple rules to free up teaching staff, including cutting the time involved in completing self-evaluation forms.

SWAP chairman John Hopkins, head of Gwernyfed high school near Brecon, Powys, said: "Schools can sometimes be their own worst enemy. But not every form has to be filled in.

"It should be the job of local education authorities to vet what is sent out to individual schools. They should only fill out non-statutory paperwork which is thought to be good for them."

A copy of new guidelines, agreed by the Assembly government and the Association of Directors of Education in Wales, has been sent to schools, along with a staffroom flyer summarising nine leading principles.

It says schools should adopt non-mandatory guidance only when it is relevant to them. It advises staff to challenge demands for non-statutory data, and to find out who to deal with directly at the Assembly government's department for education, lifelong learning and skills (DELLS), LEAs, and other agencies.

The Assembly government and LEAs are told to avoid duplicating requests for information from schools, to develop "gatekeeping" systems, and to stop unnecessary material being sent out. LEAs should appoint a senior officer responsible for gatekeeping.

And impact assessments - already in use in DELLS - should be used by councils to screen policies for their impact on schools.

SWAP member Pat Clarke, head at St Mary's primary in Wrexham, said: "We want schools to know we exist and are making changes to improve workload." leader 22

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