Majority of teachers yet to have workload review

New survey finds many schools still have not implemented key government recommendation on reducing workload

Helen Ward

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A majority of teachers still have not had workload reviews in their schools, two years after government recommendations stating that they should be done.

A survey from the NEU teachers' union has found that just 45 per cent of primary and 44 per cent of secondary teachers have had a review of marking in their school – and just 25 per cent of primary and 18 per cent of secondary teachers have had a school review of planning.

More than three-quarters (78 per cent) of secondary teachers and 69 per cent of primary teachers say the amount of marking they have is “unmanageable”.

The survey of 11,341 teachers was released after education secretary Damian Hinds told a meeting, jointly hosted by Tes at the Conservative Party conference, that there were limits to what the government could do about workload. Mr Hinds also urged schools to “call out” Ofsted when its inspectors demand inappropriate amounts of data.

But the NEU has said that the government’s message to schools has not been clear or strong enough, despite the recommendations made in March 2016 on reducing teacher workload, which covered marking, planning and data management.

The union's survey found that:

  • 60 per cent of primary teachers and 54 per cent of secondary teachers say the volume and type of planning required is unmanageable.
  • 63 per cent of secondary teachers and 66 per cent of primary teachers believe data collection is unmanageable, with the vast majority (74 per cent in primary and 82 per cent in secondary) saying that the collection of data is not streamlined to eliminate duplication.
  • Triple marking – a practice in which teachers mark students’ work, students respond to feedback and then teachers mark it again – is still being undertaken in 63 per cent of primary schools and 59 per cent of secondary schools.
  • Having to record conversations with pupils and what the conversations were about – known as "oral evidence" – continues to occupy the time of 61 per cent of primary teachers.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said three education secretaries had spoken out about workload.

He said: “But it is clear from our survey that their actions are not enough, and that the government must step up and make far greater efforts to tackle workload by giving headteachers the confidence to drop the accountability work that is now deemed clearly and irrefutably unnecessary and of no educational value. It is distorting the curriculum.

“Successive governments created an accountability machine – through Ofsted, performance targets and league tables – which is now out of the Department for Education’s control and extremely hard to stop.

“The clearest signal that government could send to schools, that they are committed to a new approach, would be to announce that Ofsted will be replaced by an organisation dedicated to the support of school improvement.”

The DfE said is had collaborated with teachers, unions and Ofsted to remove unhelpful practices that create unnecessary workload, paperwork and bureaucracy.

A DfE spokesperson said: “The Education Secretary has been clear that there are no great schools without great teachers, and has committed to tackling issues that affect teacher wellbeing, including excessive workload.

“The department has taken a number of steps – collaborating with teachers, unions and Ofsted – to support and challenge schools to remove unhelpful practices and to make clear that processes such as triple marking and individual lesson plans are not required by the government. On top of this, we recently published a toolkit which includes practical advice to help teachers reduce workload, including around marking and planning.”

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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