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Flood of ideas to lighten the load

Appointing a workload "guru", software for marking and bringing in specialist drama staff are just a few of schools' many ideas to cut workload.

The 32 schools in the Government's pound;4 million "pathfinder" pilot project are now bidding for the cash to see their ideas become reality.

Richard Townsend, principal at Dunraven school, Lambeth, south London, is keen to tackle the marking burden. He said: "Some teachers teach 400 students a week, so we really have to help them both in setting work and marking. We are looking at software which does marking so it does not have to be done by hand.

"We also want to create a workload guru, so that this is not just a one-off project but will continue. This person will be appointed specifically to make sure whatever happens, does help ease workload."

At Montagu school, Kettering, head Margaret Gwynne said a major workload issue was lesson preparation. She has bid for five extra support staff, each allocated to a curriculum area, to take on photocopying, laminating and similar jobs. A pound;60,000 "inclusive learning centre" is also proposed for pupils sent out of mainstream class for bad behaviour, those who have learning difficulties, and those who need to catch up because they have missed school.

Fiona Allen, head at Corsham primary, Wiltshire, has bid for more than pound;100,000. She said: "One of our ideas is a teachers' personal assistant for each year group, who would deal with administration such as writing letters and photocopying." Ms Allen also wants to recruit specialists to take dancing and drama lessons, so freeing up class teachers' time.

Caroline Coles, head of Horton Lodge school near Leek, Staffordshire, has 66 pupils with physical disabilities. She wants to manage training better so it does not interfere with teaching.

The School Teachers' Review Body's recent report on workload recommended employing thousands of extra support staff and guaranteed non-contact time.

Successful bidders will see their schemes to cut workload start this September.

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