Workload and funding are teachers' top priorities as term begins, says NASUWT research

Kaye Wiggins

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A reduction in workloads and the provision of “adequate” school funding are teachers’ top priorities as they return for the new school year, research commissioned by the NASUWT teaching union has found.

In the survey of 901 teachers, carried out by ComRes, 51 per cent picked the reduction of teachers' workloads as one of the government's top priorities. The same proportion picked adequate funding for all schools.

The survey asked teachers to choose their top priorities for the government from a list of 10 options. 

The most popular choices also included reforming the inspection and accountability regime, narrowing attainment gaps between disadvantaged pupils and their peers, and ensuring all teachers were qualified. Each of those options was chosen by 33 per cent of respondents.

Twenty-eight per cent said the government should prioritise increasing teachers’ pay and 27 per cent said tackling poor discipline was a priority.

At the bottom of the list came improving teachers’ pensions, picked by 14 per cent, and creating a College of Teaching, chosen by nine per cent. The union is opposed to the creation of the College of Teaching, and passed a motion at its annual conference in April to say the move had no “groundswell of support”.

But Professor Angela McFarlane, chief executive of the existing College of Teachers, one of the partners in the Claim Your College coalition that is behind the new College of Teaching, said she was not concerned about the finding.

“It’s very encouraging that nine per cent said it was one of their priorities,” she said. “If you ask someone who is immersed in the day-to-day realities of teaching what the most important thing is to them, they’re going to think of things that affect them every day. The College of Teaching doesn’t even exist yet, so I'm not surprised that it's a bit further down the list of priorities.”  

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Excessive workload, not surprisingly, remains a key priority for teachers.

“This year teachers will be looking for tangible action to reduce workload, rather than the government continuing to seek to mask its own culpability by continuing to offer nothing more than fine words and sympathy from the secretary of state.” 

The creation of a College of Teaching had "little resonance with the profession", she said. 

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Teachers should not be burdened with unnecessary workload, they should be free to focus on what really matters - ensuring children get the best education. We continue to work with the sector to address the causes of this.

"Many schools are already looking at ways to cut workload in their schools including reducing the burden of marking and data collection. We want more to do the same.

"But we recognise there is more work to do which is why following our Workload Challenge – which received more than 44,000 responses – we set up three expert groups who will make practical recommendations on reducing the burdens of marking, data collection and planning.”

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Kaye Wiggins

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