Reversal of workload

5th September 2003 at 01:00
For 20 years teachers have warned of rising workload - not necessarily more teaching, but a growing burden of other work. Recent surveys have shown that workload is the number one problem for teacher retention. That is why the changes in teachers' contracts inaugurated this week are so significant.

For the first time in a generation there is a reversal of the trend towards greater workload, and contractual change in the opposite direction. Next year there will be a limit on cover, the year after guaranteed time for preparation, planning and assessment of lessons.

The power of these proposals, and the detailed work that is being put in place to make them work in practice, is testimony to the commitment and influence of all those representatives of teachers, headteachers, support staff and local government who have sat round the table with the Government not just to hammer out an agreement, but to work together to implement it.

The partnership with the signatories to the agreement carries on.

It is fascinating to hear heads, teachers and governors talk about a change of culture as well as structure in schools - above all in the way the whole school team, support staff as well as teachers, is used to support pupils'


There are 25,000 more teachers than six years ago, 80,000 more support staff. Personalised attention for pupils means them working together in new ways.

I have seen in tiny primary schools in Shropshire and large comprehensives in London the power of workforce reform to re-direct energy in a school towards the needs of pupils.

Change is always difficult. Some schools have funding problems this year.

But the contractual changes are supported by practical support available for every school. The National Remodelling Team shows how it can be done on its website.

The headteacher, teacher and support staff unions as well as governors are issuing guidance to members.

Everyone who works in schools stands to benefit from these reforms. Most important, so can every child. That is a great prize for the new school year.

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