Nicky Morgan launched the Teachers’ Workload Survey in October ’14 and promised to deliver a response in 6 weeks. Over 40,000 teachers responded to the survey, that’s a huge number of teachers who felt strongly enough about the issue to put pen to paper and speak out. I wrote my thoughts at the time in this post. I suggested nine things which I thought would relieve some of the pressure from teachers. I am pleased to see that several of my recommendations have been included.
The document arrived in my Head Teacher’s email in box yesterday morning at precisely the same time as I arrived in her office on an unrelated matter. We sat together and went through the response. Yes, we are that sad!
These are the main things which leapt out to us as we read through it.
1. Lesson planning.
2. Marking and reporting on pupils’ work.
3. Tracking pupil progress.
As Nicky explained, these are all necessary tasks. Indeed, as teachers it is what we are paid to do along with actually educating children. That said, do we really need to do these things in such great detail and with so much amount of duplication?
The response shows that much of this pressure comes from Senior leadership teams’ responses to Ofsted. I have written several times on the fact that I believe that some SLT are responsible for teachers’ excessive workload. Schools are playing for such high stakes each time there is an inspection that some SLT are continually trying to second guess what Ofsted want and inventing new and more complex systems to deal with this. They pass on this pressure to teachers who are then stuck with excessive short term planning, triple marking fads and over zealous tracking of pupil progress.
So Ofsted will review their ‘Clarification to Schools’ document and make it even clearer what Ofsted do and don’t want.
There will be a minimum lead in for changes made to national policies affecting schools.
There will be no further changes to exams while the current GCSEs are in progress.
There will be a commitment to improved quality assurance for Ofsted reports. Ofsted will welcome feedback post inspection.
The DfE will review its use of data.
Most interestingly there will be a focus on coaching and mentoring for Head Teachers.
As my Head Teacher and I went through the document we discussed in great length several facts. As a leadership team we don’t insist on short term plans. They are the teacher’s personal choice. Obviously it is wise to have one if you are being observed. Secondly, we don’t have any marking fads at all. Whatever works for the child or young person in question is the right way to mark in our opinion. Thirdly, we don’t expect our teachers to over track their pupil’s progress. I am assessment leader, that is my role. As long as they provide me with enough data for me to do my job, I am happy.
As the two of us were discussing this we began to wonder if there is a correlation between schools which already operate like this and schools who have Outstanding status. At our school we trust our teachers to teach to the best of their ability and we free up their time to allow them to do this. We don’t micro manage, we don’t expect the short term plans, the faddy marking or the excessive tracking, yet we continue to be ‘Outstanding’. Is trust the key? Just a thought.