Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has announced ‘major work’ to reduce unnecessary teacher workloads, following the publication of three landmark reports from the Marking Policy Review Group, Planning and Resources Review Group and a Data Management Review Group.
The reports mark a radical response to concerns that workload is one of the major challenges affecting teachers.
Announcing the findings of the reviews at the NASUWT conference, the Education Secretary pledged support to free up teachers’ time by stamping out unnecessary tasks and ‘red tape’ impacting on the profession, stifling its creativity and passion. Morgan was heckled during her speech at the conference, due to the negative response to the government’s ‘every school an academy’ plans.
Nicky Morgan said: “Nothing is more damaging to the profession than wasting the passion and expertise of teachers and school leaders on unnecessary tasks.
“That’s why I’m publishing the results of the three workload review groups on marking, planning and data collection – the three biggest concerns raised by teachers through the workload challenge.
“These reports are a great example of the profession taking charge of their own development and I want them to make a difference to the lives of teachers. I am pleased to say I am accepting all the recommendations for government in full. But more importantly the groups also make recommendations for the profession – because tackling workload requires much more than change from government, but culture change on the ground as well.”
The reports’ recommendations include:
- Calls for schools to challenge emerging fads that can cause excessive marking practices and not to reward ‘gold-plating’ – which involves excessive data collection
- School leaders to evaluate the impact of school marking practices on teachers’ time, to prevent unreasonable demands on staff and to make sure they help drive pupil progress
- Actions for Ofsted include continuing to ensure that no particular marking methods are being singled out for praise, with clear training for inspectors and monitoring of the reports
- Better sharing of effective teaching to inform planning – underpinned by continuous professional development
- The Department for Education and other agencies to work with the sector to allow sufficient planning time when making changes
- Regular reviews of planning demands placed on teachers led by school leaders
The announcement was made during a speech at the annual NASUWT conference in Birmingham, in which she called for the teaching profession to help shape the education system of the future. This also marked the first time a Conservative Education Secretary has spoken at the conference since 1997.
The National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) said the reports were welcome, but should go further. Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT, said: “The three reports that have been issued do have some good recommendations to make sure that teachers’ workload doesn’t have a negative impact on children. Nobody wants to see teachers burdened with unnecessary requirements that do nothing to support effective, high quality teaching and raising pupil achievement.
“However, the government must accept responsibility for the major role it has to play in keeping teacher workloads under control. Individual schools can and should take steps to address workload but they can do nothing about the timing or the content of government reforms or the weight of accountability.
“Constant reform – including last week’s move to force a status change upon the majority of schools that are not academies – leaves staff rushing to keep up and means teachers will spend more and more time on work outside of the classroom.”