Teachers have called for a "significant and immediate" cut to their "devastating" workload.
While there have been "welcome" steps taken by the Department for Education to reduce the "unsustainable" level of work faced by teachers, such efforts have "clearly not had the desired effect", the joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union has warned.
Kevin Courtney made the comments on the final day of the NEU annual conference, as delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of "immediate" action to reduce their workload.
Speaking on the issue this afternoon, James Stirton, district secretary for the Oldham branch of the NEU, said: "If I ever hear the words in a meeting again: 'It's about working smarter, not harder,' that individual will be getting kicked quite happily by myself out of whatever virtual meeting we're in, faster than a Jackie Weaver councillors' meeting."
The impact of Covid on teacher workload
More than 99 per cent of teachers voted in favour of a motion calling on the union to:
- Campaign for significant and immediate reductions in workload for all teachers and support staff.
- Embark on a public-facing campaign highlighting the devastating impact excessive workload has on teachers, support staff, as well as on pupils, including the impact of high-stakes testing and the accountability system.
- Distribute and disseminate workload charters currently in use and carry out an analysis into their effectiveness at reducing workload.
- Collate and publish data on the prevalence and impact of workload on the mental health of teachers and support staff.
- Work with districts, branches, and workplace reps to encourage the use of the union's workload survey in order to identify common workload issues.
- Continue to support members wishing to take collective action on workload while seeking to coordinate industrial action arising from this campaign across workplaces.
Mr Courtney said: "Analysis after analysis and survey upon survey continue to demonstrate that teacher workload remains unsustainable and is the main driver for leaving the profession.
"The pandemic has only made matters worse. That is why NEU conference is calling for more practical steps that NEU members say will achieve the goal of reducing workload.
"The steps that the Department for Education has taken towards reducing teacher workload are welcome but have clearly not had the desired effect. If the DfE is serious about teacher workload and wellbeing, it should listen to NEU members and implement the steps proposed around accountability, data, marking, administrative tasks and working time.
"These sensible changes concerning staff working time, including reinstating guidance to limit time spent on cover and administrative tasks, would radically help to reduce teacher workload to more manageable levels."