Pilots find path to a happier workplace

HEADTEACHERS in the pilot project to cut workload are confident that their ideas can cut teachers' hours and boost morale, writes Helen Ward.

Being chosen for the the Government's "Pathfinder" project enabled Martin Mangan, head of Bovingdon primary, Hemel Hempstead, to persuade Emma Mason, 29, and Hazel Millard, 24, to stay on when they wanted to leave teaching.

Hazel said: "By my first half-term as an newly-qualified teacher, I was absolutely exhausted. It was a shock to find out how much hidden work there was."

Mr Mangan said: "Emma and Hazel are unhappy that nine-tenths of their waking day is spent working."

Pathfinder schools have bid for a share of pound;4 million that they will use to experiment with ways to free teacher time. These will generally require investment in extra staff and technology.

Bovingdon has won pound;170,000 to spend next year on six new support posts, software and hiring specialists to run drama and music and theatre groups, releasing teachers.

Pathfinder heads are very much aware that other schools have a problem with workload but have no cash to relieve it.

Mr Mangan said: "If you give every school pound;100,000 to reduce workload they will do it easily. what we are looking to do is put into place processes that are sustainable. But if the project finds that funding is required to solve the issue of workload then that message needs to be heard by Estelle Morris."

At Langley junior, Plymouth, head Debbie Fuller has pound;162,000 to build an office for admin staff and a workspace for teachers, hire an artist-in-residence and appoint four teaching assistants.

She will also start pupil workshops in subjects such as web design, using her existing budget. She said: "I've spoken to schools about what we're doing and they are watching with interest. It will take an enormous amount of organisation, but we will do the donkey work and then share the workshops with colleagues."

Stephen Cook, head at David Lister secondary in Hull, has bid for pound;275,000. He is hoping to develop software to help with lesson plans, assessment, target-setting and report writing. The software could then be shared with other schools.

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