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Exclusive: Ofsted to ask headteachers how they plan to reduce teachers' workload

The watchdog's director of education says that inspectors will ask senior leaders to consider the workload implications of new policies

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The watchdog's director of education says that inspectors will ask senior leaders to consider the workload implications of new policies

From the start of the new school year, Ofsted inspectors will routinely ask headteachers how they intend to reduce their teachers’ workload.

Sean Harford, the inspectorate’s national director of education, announced this in a tweet yesterday in which he called on headteachers to make a single pledge to reduce their staff workload.

Okay #SLT what's one thing you'll pledge to do to reduce your teachers' workload in the coming new year?

— Sean Harford (@HarfordSean) 31 August 2017


We are from this term (OWTTE).

— Sean Harford (@HarfordSean) 1 September 2017


He also said that Ofsted would be focusing on ensuring that senior leaders consider the workload implications of policies before introducing them.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, questioned whether this was the best way for Ofsted to announce new policy initiatives. "Twitter is for videos of cats doing something funny," he said. "I'd prefer to hear policy announcements through the formal channels.

"If certain questions are going to be asked of school leaders, at the very least, we'd have liked to have some consultation about it. Questionnaires to staff in themselves generate workload. You can't be using questionnaires to drill into every aspect of what a school is or isn't doing."

But the suggestion has inspired some teachers. Within a day, there were 90 responses to Mr Harford’s tweet.

Many said that the best way for headteachers to ensure that staff were not working excessively was to lead by example:


Model worklife balance...enthusing engaging & empowering teachers to own their own mental health, wellbeing & workload #teacher5aday #SLT

— P Ottley-O'Connor (@ottleyoconnor) 31 August 2017



Try to leave on the bell twice a week! Model good work life balance. No emails after 5 or weekends for everyone.

— Teaching Ted (@TeachingTed) 31 August 2017


Others suggested that the best way to work out what teachers wanted was simply to ask them:


1. ASK staff what is most cumbersome for them re: workload + take steps to reduce. 2. Be visible, try + prevent behaviour issues escalating

— Jennifer (@nowMrsBeattie) 31 August 2017


A number of teachers called for the removal (or at least the delegation to admin staff) of admin tasks. And they called for senior managers to consider carefully whether tasks would genuinely enhance teaching and learning in the school.

Several, meanwhile, homed in on homework, as one of the biggest sources of teacher workload.


Reduce written homework by students by half. Replace written homework by asking students to think and report back orally in class.

— Colin Richards (@colinsparkbridg) 31 August 2017



Removing 'marking' - replacing with live in lesson feedback - onus on the students to respond. @HarfordSean

— Alexander Laney (@Alex_Laney) 1 September 2017


Inevitably, many also identified the one single source of teacher workload that Mr Harford was in a singularly good position to tackle:


Stop preparing for Ofsted

— Stephen Capper (@capper_sc) 1 September 2017


(Largely) ignore Ofsted. Apart from when they visit. Apart from that I'll let you know when I know the schools better.

— Stuart Lock (@StuartLock) 31 August 2017


Take no notice of Ofsted

— Daisy Norfolk (@daisynorfolk) 31 August 2017


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