The government cannot do “as much as you might hope” to reduce teachers' workload, Damian Hinds has admitted.
The education secretary acknowledged that marking, lesson planning and data collection could take up an “inordinate amount of time” but said they could "maintain a momentum of their own".
In March, Mr Hinds made workload the subject of his first major speech since joining the Department for Education.
However, at a meeting jointly hosted by Tes at the Conservative Party conference this morning he expressed his frustration at the limits to what the government could do to tackle this.
He said: “It’s one of the frustrating things in my job that I know that workload is the single biggest drag factor in the teaching profession today, and there’s not actually, it turns out, quite so much as you might hope that the government you can do about it."
Go to 59 minutes into the video of the fringe meeting to find Mr Hinds’ comments about workload:
“There are some things you can do, and we are working hard and are keen to work with all the professional bodies and the unions on that," he added. "But actually because it is such a complex system things maintain a momentum of their own, and this thing about collecting data is right at the top of that list.
“Lesson planning also ends up taking up an inordinate amount of time for some teachers – marking again, an inordinate amount of time – but that’s often largely to do with the marking policies of the schools.”
Hinds said there was a growing number of heads and multi-academy trust CEOs who were saying “no, we are going to stop doing this”.
He added: “Of course, it turns out that that hasn’t harmed the education of the kids at all. It’s freed up the time of the teachers to put more thought into doing teaching and learning with the kids.
“This is a whole-system approach that we need to take.”