Education Secretary Nicky Morgan launched the Workload Challenge survey on behalf of the DfE via the TES website back in October.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development says that teachers in England work more hours per week than those in other countries but spend less time actually teaching children. Clearly this is not a good situation and something must change.
In today’s news Nicky Morgan stated that over 40,000 teachers had responded to the survey and to her credit she has promised to turn this around in just 6 weeks. She said that the survey would be turned in to ‘concrete action’ to reduce unnecessary workload.
Personally, while I applaud Nicky’s stance I hold a couple of reservations. For example, six weeks is a very short space of time to to respond in depth with a well thought out plan of action. Also, will the new master plan actually be workable in schools? Let’s try and avoid any knee jerk reactions to this, a considered and well thought response is required.
In an effort to help Nicky I have collected my thoughts together. I have generally blogged about these things before but I have collated them in to one post for easy reading.
1. Planning. Advise SLT not to insist on short term plans. They are not necessary and do not necessarily make anyone a better teacher. They just increase workload. STPs should be personal choice.
2. Marking. No triple marking or any type of fancy marking that SLT think will impress Ofsted.
3. Observations. Make them developmental rather than judgemental and definitely not graded. Developmental observations means less time spent preparing for one off observed lessons where teachers have to jump through hoops to prove their worth. Excessive observations equals extra planning, extra marking and more resources to be made.
4. Ofsted. Advise SLT not to do Mocksteds. They are counter productive and cause extra work through excessive planning, assessment and marking.
5. Ofsted. Ask Ofsted to produce another Mythbusting documenting requiring all SLT to stay calm. There is no need for knee jerk reactions to every little thing mentioned by Ofsted. This was highlighted by @cazzypot who now has to prove she has addressed British Values in an observed lesson. The same Mythbuster should remind SLT not to increase teacher workload by requesting things in the name of Ofsted.
6. Employ more teachers. I am aware that this is not a simple solution but more teachers would reduce class sizes, reduce planning, reduce marking and give the children a better education.
7. A settled curriculum. Give us time to get to grips with this one before making changes. Every curriculum change means new resources and new plans.
8. Settled GCSE/A Level courses.This is for the same reason as above.
9. Assessment. If you are planning to eventually introduce an assessment framework for all, do it now please. Teachers are spending a great deal of time working on assessment strategies. This may be unpopular but my own opinion is that eventually we will all have to conform to one strategy. If this is the case it would reduce our workload if it was introduced now.
Just to be clear, explicit instructions to SLT regarding planning, marking, observations and over reactions would help teachers enormously. A settled curriculum would allow us to get to grips with this paperwork before we try to master another load of paperwork.
I hope Nicky has a good rest over Christmas and considers the teachers who will be spending a proportion of their holiday planning for the Spring Term. I hope she looks carefully at our workload and comes up with a workable solution for this very jaded profession.