Teachers share workload worries in their thousands

31st October 2014 at 00:00
Government `challenge' prompts huge response from profession

Tens of thousands of teachers have responded to a call for evidence from education secretary Nicky Morgan on how to cut excessive workload and bureaucracy.

More than 27,500 teachers have filled in a Department for Education survey in the week since it was launched, outlining the "unnecessary and unproductive" burdens they face.

Ms Morgan and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg have promised that the results from the Workload Challenge will lead to concrete action on tackling workload issues and a revision of the tasks set for teachers by the government and schools.

The education secretary said that although she marvelled at the commitment of teachers, she didn't "want my child to be taught by someone too stressed and too anxious to do the job well".

The consultation was greeted with a mixture of scepticism and relief by the profession. Although many were glad to see some action being taken on the issue, much of the blame was laid at the door of politicians.

As soon as the survey, which is being hosted on the TES website, was announced, Twitter was abuzz with teachers giving insight into their long working days.

Among them was @TriciaOxlade, who tweeted: "Arrived at school at 7am today and left at 7.45pm. Perfect timing for completing Nicky Morgan's Workload Challenge."

The majority of those taking to social media wanted to encourage their colleagues to take part in the survey and tell politicians about the reality of their jobs.

One teacher, @rmlofthouse, said: "Teachers asked to tell government what fills their days. Add that to your to-do list. Challenge them to change it."

Another, @Hettyislearning, tweeted: "Complete the Teacher Workload Challenge and let Nicky Morgan know the reality of the world she is running!"

A number of commenters said that their workload had increased as a direct result of government policies and reforms introduced since the last general election.

Claire Lotriet, a primary school teacher in South London, said she was hopeful that Ms Morgan and Mr Clegg would listen to the responses given by teachers, but felt they had already "missed the point" in some instances.

"I'm sure some schools' marking policies are ridiculously over the top, requiring a rainbow of different coloured highlighters, but I don't think it's wise to just lump marking and feedback in with the `runaway train of bureaucracy', as Nick Clegg appears to have done," Ms Lotriet told TES.

Proper feedback was one of the most effective ways of helping a child to progress, she said, and should be cherished.

"I also think the government should have considered teachers' workloads when deciding to introduce a brand-new curriculum and get rid of levels - not that I loved them - with no support whatsoever," she added. "This has massively added to my workload."

The consultation runs until 21 November and responses will be fed back to a panel of teachers and education experts in the new year. The panel will then work with the profession, the teaching unions and Ofsted to put forward recommendations on how to alleviate the problems raised.

Find the survey at www.tesconnect.comdfe

Time served

Average working hours per week for classroom teachers around the world:

1 Japan 54

2 Singapore 48

3 England 46

4 US 45

5 Sweden 42

6 Spain 38

7 Poland 37

8 South Korea 37

9 France 37

10 Netherlands 36


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today