Heads are 'strangled' by red tape

7th April 2000 at 01:00
HEADTEACHERS' top three complaints about workload will come as no surprise to anyone - inspection, the barrage of Government documents and the continual round of bidding for cash.

This week's survey of 3,200 headteachers revealed an urgent need to reduce tasks deemed to be of little value to pupils and the effective running of schools.

The recommendations from the Government's Better Regulation Task Force to cut bureacracy will no doubt be welcomed.

As David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "There is absolutely no point in emphasising the vital role of heads, or of creating a breed of superheads, if Government and its education partners insist on strangling them with red tape."

Heads have long complained of the escalating bureaucratic burden. The NAHT's survey, published yesterday, grades workload and stress against the pupils' achievements.

While the national curriculum and testing were credited with bringing about improvements, neither was thought to be highly significant yet all affected the workload of teachers, heads and deputies.

Mr Hart said: "Too many tasks are of little value to the education of pupils or to the effective running of schools."

The Office for Standards in Education was the bete noire for most heads. Workload and stress was high for weeks before an inspection. The process was seen as having value, though not a particularly high one.

More than 90 per cent of heads felt it was vital to cut workload. Considerable dissatisfaction was also expressed with services provided by local education authorities and governing bodies.

Few of the heads responding to the survey valued the service provided by their local council although many sympathised with the emasculated condition of LEAs. Most said that local authorities only increased their workload.

Heads said most governors were self-seeking, disinterested, unskilled and time-wasting.

David Osborne, who prepared the survey fo the NAHT, said nothing less than a full re-evaluation of the role and function of governors was needed.

"It is clear that too much is expected of governing bodies and the majority are unable to fulfil the responsibilities," he added.

The lowest value of all tasks analysed was the governors' annual meeting with parents, involving lots of meetings and stress, and Mr Osborne urged it be abandoned.

There was the usual complaint about funding - insufficient - as well as criticism about the complex and time-consuming process of bidding for specific grants.

Leader, 18



OFSTED inspection

Documents from the DFEE, QCA, TTA

Bidding for specific funds

Governors' annual meeting with parents

Managing value-added data

Level of finance

Managing premises

Managing finance

Staff appraisal

Mixed-age classes


OFSTED inspection

Documents from the DFEE, QCA, TTA

Bidding for specific funds

Violent and abusive parents

Level of finance

Governors' main meetings

Governors' sub committees

School policies

Problems with governors

Managing finance



"My workload is out of my control."

"To cope, I drink alcohol and employ staff with a sense of humour."

"For the first time after 32 years I took time off last week suffering severe stress."


"There are times when I feel that I could do my job better without them at all."

"One very aggressive upwardly mobile governor can cause chaos."

"I appreciate their support, commitment, availablity for consultation."

LEAs ...

"They are too much like supertankers, unable to change direction easily. Abolish them."

"... add to the pressures by multiple requests from different sections for the same information."

"Most of its advisers are so divorced from managing and teaching in schools it's laughable."

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