Work­load proves a big­ger chal­lenge than ex­pected

Why have heads failed to act on rec­om­men­da­tions from the Work­load Chal­lenge? 54 hours 60 hours 93%

TES (Times Education Supplement) - - INSIGHT - Will hazell

WHEN THREE in­de­pen­dent re­ports on re­duc­ing work­load were pub­lished in March last year as part of the gov­ern­ment’s Work­load Chal­lenge, there were high hopes they would im­prove the lot of over­bur­dened teach­ers.

Nicky Mor­gan, the ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary at the time, said that she hoped the re­ports on plan­ning, mark­ing and data man­age­ment would “make a dif­fer­ence to the lives of teach­ers”. The doc­u­ments were also wel­comed by the ed­u­ca­tion unions, which were rep­re­sented on the groups that wrote them.

How­ever, 16 months later, we have now learned that, in a Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion­com­mis­sioned sur­vey, only a fifth of se­nior lead­ers said that their school had im­ple­mented the re­ports’ rec­om­men­da­tions.

Why has up­take of the rec­om­men­da­tions been so limited? And with sto­ries emerg­ing every week about the crush­ing work­load in the pro­fes­sion – 16 teach­ers have re­port­edly quit Our Lady of Lour­des Catholic Pri­mary, in Bris­tol, for this rea­son – is the Work­load Chal­lenge dead?

Some head­teach­ers and union of­fi­cials think that additional work­load gen­er­ated by a hy­per­ac­tive gov­ern­ment has left schools strug­gling to im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions.

Ge­off Bar­ton, gen­eral sec­re­tary of the As­so­ci­a­tion of School and Col­lege Lead­ers, calls “cur­ricu­lum and qual­i­fi­ca­tion re­form” an “ex­ter­nal jug­ger­naut” that has made ex­tra work­load “non-ne­go­tiable” at sec­ondary level.

At pri­mary level, James Bowen, di­rec­tor of the NAHT Edge mid­dle lead­ers’ union, says that ef­forts to re­duce work­load have been un­der­mined by the gov­ern­ment’s changes to as­sess­ment and the cur­ricu­lum.

An­drew Mor­ris, head of pay, con­di­tions and bar­gain­ing at the NUT teach­ing union, says that the re­ports “weren’t given suf­fi­cient pub­lic­ity” by the DFE when they were launched.

“It took a lot of work to get the sec­re­tary of state to an­nounce that she did en­dorse the rec­om­men­da­tions and sup­ported them,” he claims. A slightly dif­fer­ent em­pha­sis – telling teach­ers not to do cer­tain things – could have in­creased the re­ports’ ef­fec­tive­ness, he ar­gues.

Dawn Cop­ping is head­teacher of Shaw Pri­mary Academy in Thur­rock, Es­sex, and

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