Educators across the land and even those who haven’t yet entered the profession will know that teachers don’t just spend their time teaching. In fact, a letter from Education Secretary Damien Hinds highlights that more than half of a teacher’s time is allocated to tasks such as marking, planning and general admin.
The letter was sent to all school leaders early in November, co-signed by Ofsted, the Confederation of Schools Trust and other key organisations. The purpose behind this wasn’t simply observational, as Hinds stated his commitment to reducing workload by tackling longstanding issues within the education sector, which are a direct cause of stress, anxiety, and many inspiring individuals leaving the profession entirely.
Pinpointing the exact problem, the Education Secretary admits that an ever-increasing emphasis on schools having to build detailed pupil data results in countless hours spent on administrative duties, which have a clear impact on the quality of lessons and the average lifespan of a teaching career. Though we’re living in a time where data is everywhere and used to great effect, it’s encouraging to know the nation’s education leader acknowledges that technology needs to be simplified before it becomes detrimental to what teaching is all about.
Hinds also promised that the government will support head teachers with the workload associated with teacher appraisals and make data systems more effective, with the aim being to reduce the hours required to achieve tasks by removing unnecessary processes. Put simply, Hinds says that he wants to “make sure teachers are teaching, not putting data into spreadsheets”.
Taking immediate action, school leaders have been assured that they will no longer be asked for data other than in a school’s existing format. For those who are familiar with the time-consuming job of converting documents to fit external specifications, this alone will come as very welcome news. What’s more, Hinds says that he and the government realise that excessive monitoring of a child’s progress isn’t required by Ofsted or the DfE, thereby allowing a reduction in superfluous data collection.
This activity is complemented by the recently added Gov.uk resources to help school leaders and teachers to review and reduce workload. If you haven’t yet checked out this valuable toolkit, we recommend downloading it now so that you can discover methods of dedicating more time to teaching your lessons.
Other support is also being rolled out nationwide, including a boost to training opportunities for teachers in early stages of their career, a £508 million grant to fund a pay increase up to 3.5% for classroom teachers on the main pay range, and the introduction of flexible working practices.
Teaching is one of the most inspirational, versatile and fulfilling careers available, so it’s reassuring that the government is putting measures in place to attract new teachers and retain existing educators.
What are your thoughts on the new DfE plan? Let us know and tag us #TeachNorthwest.