Education secretary Damian Hinds has vowed to help school leaders remove the burden of “unnecessary” workloads and support teachers so they are able to focus their attention in the classroom.
In a joint letter sent to school leaders last week, co-signed by bodies such as Ofsted and the Confederation of Schools Trust, Hinds stressed his commitment to reducing teachers’ workload.
As a government blog explains, the letter pointed to research showing that over half of a teacher’s time is typically spent on non-teaching duties, like planning, marking and admin. Excessive workloads have also been found to be one of the top reasons why so many teachers leave the profession each year.
The letter coincides with the release of a report from the Workload Advisory Group, which was set up by Hinds to address the teacher workload issue, and is headed by education expert Professor Becky Allen.
The report sought to explore some of the ongoing issues surrounding workload, discovering that teachers are suffering from anxiety and burnout due to growing expectations on schools to use detailed pupil data.
To tackle this, Hinds has pledged to cut the requirement to gather unnecessary or excessive data on students, better utilise technology to simplify data systems, and assist leaders in dealing with the workload related to teacher appraisals.
“I want to make sure teachers are teaching, not putting data into spreadsheets,” stressed Hinds. “That’s why I am stopping my department asking for data other than in the school’s existing format.”
Hinds said he will support heads who want their teachers to cut right down on collecting data so they can devote more time to what they have been employed to do: teach.
He said he is committed to measures such as stopping the introduction of resits for year 7 pupils, which would have meant more workload for teachers; requesting data in a school’s existing format (where possible) to avoid duplication; and offering support to head teachers on how to carry out teacher appraisals.
Back in July, the government launched a series of online resources leaders can use to help limit ‘burdensome responsibilities.’ They have so far been viewed over 143,000 times and downloaded more than 61,500 times.
What’s your experience of pupil data collection? Do you think reducing the administrative burden is enough to inspire teachers to remain in the profession?