Nick Clegg is to launch a “battle on bureaucracy”, calling on teachers to spell out how their workloads could be lightened.
In a speech this morning, the deputy prime minister will launch a new initiative, called the Workload Challenge, which will give teachers across the country a chance to tell the government what should be done to improve their working lives.
The Liberal Democrat leader will ask teachers to send their “problems, ideas and solutions” to government officials via the TES website. The best ideas will then be looked at by a panel of teachers and other experts from within education in the New Year with a view to working with the profession, Ofsted and the unions to put those plans into action. Mr Clegg will say that common problems teachers face are excessive marking, being asked to prepare too much evidence for performance management, and being told to write comments in different colours in students’ books. In a speech at a school in south London, Mr Clegg will say: “I believe it’s time for us to stop that runaway train of bureaucracy in its tracks, giving our teachers more time to do what they do best: creating and planning the best possible lessons and experiences for our children.” The project will be led by education secretary Nicky Morgan, who has written exclusively on the issue for TES. Mr Clegg added that the Department for Education has already started looking at teacher workload and was talking to the unions about Ofsted inspections, which resulted in last week’s “myth busting” document published by the watchdog.
A survey by the NUT last month showed that 90 per cent of teachers had considered leaving the profession due to an excessive workload. This latest move was welcomed by the ATL union, which said it was about time the government took the issue of workload seriously. “Politicians will find they have opened Pandora’s Box,” Mary Bousted, ATL’s general secretary, warned. “Teachers will have far reaching, and challenging things to say about Ofsted, because it has driven so much unproductive work, and about the pace and nature of education change and the Coalition’s reckless approach to qualification and curriculum reform. "Ultimately teachers’ workload will only be reduced when politicians learn to respect the demanding and difficult work teachers and school leaders do. Regrettably, we are still some way off that.”
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