Workload proves a bigger challenge than expected
Why have heads failed to act on recommendations from the Workload Challenge? 54 hours 60 hours 93%
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