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DfE pledges new action to cut teacher workload

Workload Advisory Group publishes string of recommendations for schools, DfE and Ofsted to reduce burden on teachers

Damian Hinds has written a letter about reducing teacher workload

Workload Advisory Group publishes string of recommendations for schools, DfE and Ofsted to reduce burden on teachers

The Department for Education has promised to help schools simplify the way teachers log incidents of poor behaviour as part of renewed offers to cut workload.

The move comes as the DfE publishes a report by the Workload Advisory Group, which says that teachers can suffer from anxiety and burnout because of an increasing expectation on schools to use detailed pupil data.

The report calls for schools to not have more than two or three attainment data collection points a year.

Hinds 'committed to tackling teacher workload'

Education secretary Damian Hinds is today writing a joint letter with Ofsted and other organisations to school leaders to repeat his commitment to tackle teacher workload.

In its formal response to the group's report, the DfE said it “accepts all of the recommendations in the report in full”.

For schools, the report's recommendations include:

  • Have simple systems that allow behaviour incidents, detentions and other pastoral information to be logged during the normal working day, rather than at break and lunchtimes, wherever possible;
  • Minimise or eliminate the number of pieces of information teachers are expected to compile;
  • Schools review their approach to reporting and parental engagement, to inform parents of their child’s performance and behaviour at school in a way that is manageable for teachers, and consider how best to set out expectations to parents;
  • Schools should not have more than two or three attainment data collection points a year, which should be used to inform clear actions. Increasing assessment frequency is not inherently likely to improve outcomes for pupils;
  • Schools should not make pay progression for teachers dependent on quantitative assessment metrics, such as test outcomes.

The report's recommendations for the DfE include:

  • Not requesting regular attainment data from schools, apart from statutory data collections, unless the schools meet a trigger for intervention;
  • Do not request data on pupil targets and predictions to hold schools to account;
  • Amend performance management guidance to clarify that objectives and performance management discussions should not be based on teacher-generated data and predictions, or solely on the assessment data for a single group of pupils;
  • Research different ways schools engage with parents, alongside their time demands, “with a view to designing a randomised controlled trial to test the impact of low-time investment models of parental engagement”.

For Ofsted, the report's recommendations include:

  • Provide further clarity to schools that inspectors will not expect to see detailed logging of every single incident and detention, and that schools should use their own judgement of what constitutes a ‘minor’ incident;
  • Ofsted inspectors should ask questions about whether schools’ attainment data collections are proportionate, represent an efficient use of school resources, and are sustainable for staff.

The DfE said the education secretary was committed to giving headteachers guidance on how to carry out teacher appraisals, and on the use of pupil targets and attainment data.

Mr Hinds said: “Many teachers are having to work way too many hours each week on unnecessary tasks, including excessive time spent on marking and data analysis.

"I want to make sure teachers are teaching, not putting data into spreadsheets. That's why I am stopping my department asking for data other than in the school’s existing format."

The DfE said it will also conduct research into the burdens of reporting in schools and the use of technology to support data collection.

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