Government vows, once again, to reduce teacher workload

The government has reiterated its vow to reduce teacher workload

The Department for Education’s latest vow to reduce teacher workload has been accompanied by new data collected in England.

Last winter, the DfE surveyed over 1,000 teachers and 836 school leaders to gauge their opinions on personal development and how workload is handled.

33% of teacher said that their workload was no different despite their managers and bosses attempting to reduce it. Almost all school leaders (99.5%) claimed to have taken some form of action.

An additional 17% claimed that no action had been taken by their superiors.

Less than half of school leaders and teachers alike said their workload had become more manageable.

Damian Hinds stated that the results were encouraging, but others disagree.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“The workload problem in schools is not going away and is arguably getting worse.

“The obsession with performance tables remains, and this is a driver for so much that is negative in the working culture of schools.

“Damian Hinds makes passing reference to TALIS in his statement but neglects to mention the unflattering findings of this respected international survey.

“It shows that working hours are on the rise, with an unacceptable working week of 52.1 hours for primary teachers in England and 49.3 hours in lower secondary.

“Even part-time teachers work more than 35 hours per week. They are also far more likely to spend those hours on non-teaching tasks.

“Although we welcome any reductions in the areas of marking and planning, information from our members suggests that they’re looking in the wrong direction.

“We also know that schools are having to prepare for the new inspection framework, and the new baseline and times tables tests.

“We’re not convinced that the Department for Education has a good understanding of all the demands on schools that come from other government departments such as the Department of Health.

“We have seen three education secretaries since the final recommendations of the working groups were issued.

“Progress is painfully slow, but work must continue to give head teachers the confidence to reject the unnecessary tasks surrounding marking and data collection which so heavily weigh down on teachers.

“Not only is it a risk to their wellbeing, but it is distorting the curriculum.

“Damian Hinds is right to note that there’s still a long way to go. Until he reduces national pressures of accountability, funding and teacher recruitment, the workload crisis will continue.”

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