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Vast majority of teachers say DfE effort to cut workload has had no impact

Dave Speck

9th April, 2018

Government policy is adding to teachers' ‘burn-out’, forcing them to leave the profession 'in droves' because of workload pressures, says union.

A total of 87 per cent of teachers say that the government’s Workload Challenge has not cut their workload "at all", according to a survey.

In the survey of 8,000 teachers in England, 60 per cent said that there had, in fact, been “a notable increase” in workload since the Workload Challenge was introduced by education secretary Nicky Morgan in 2014, despite its aims to reduce marking, planning and data management.

The findings of the survey, revealed today in Liverpool at the NEU conference (ATL section), come after current education secretary Damian Hinds said last month that he would be “stripping away” pointless tasks to allow teachers to “focus on what actually matters”.

The survey, carried out by the NEU, shows that government and Ofsted are now the biggest drivers of teacher workload.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “We know that teachers are leaving the profession in droves due to pressures from workload. Teachers are a priceless resource and the government should not be adding to their burn-out.

“As a result of the NEU’s workload campaign, the government and Ofsted recently produced a video about some of the activity around marking, data collection and lesson planning that Ofsted don’t want to see, and that heads should not ask for. However, schools need to know what the government and Ofsted expects of them, not just what they don’t expect, and the government needs to define just what it is that teachers should be doing."

The causes of teacher workload


Responding to the survey, 52 per cent of teachers said that government changes to the curriculum, assessments or exams were the biggest driver of their workload, while 46 per cent said it was Ofsted inspections, including mock inspections. Some 74 per cent reported that pressure to increase pupil test scores and exam grades was the biggest driver of their workload.


One female primary school teacher in a maintained school said: “I have no time to plan engaging lessons as I am too busy marking, assessing, reading and responding to emails at all hours.”


And a male primary teacher said: “There is no time to do things well. I find it harder to enjoy the job and give my best, due to tiredness."


When asked what practices they felt should be changed or stopped to reduce their workload, 40 per cent of teachers said "Ofsted prep", 58 per cent cited general administration and 47 per cent said that if they stopped deep marking it would help reduce their workload.


Last month, Mr Hinds told the Association of School and College Leaders' conference in Birmingham that there will be no new tests or assessments for primary schools, and no changes to the national curriculum, GCSE or A levels, for the remainder of this Parliament, beyond those already announced. He also promised to work with teaching unions and professional bodies to develop a strategy to drive recruitment and boost retention of teachers.

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