Diary of a headteacher: Workload – the saga continues

Yet more promises of action come from the government on the issue of teacher workload, but the pressures that schools and teachers face show no sign of easing. A headteacher in his fourth year of headship at a secondary school in the Midlands writes in SecEd.

Despite the assertions of education secretary Damian Hinds that reducing teacher workload is a key strategy for improving retention and recruitment, it is hard to see beyond the constant stream of rhetoric that his predecessors have hidden behind and believe that this is not just more of the same. 

The Workload Challenge was launched by the government in 2014 and the subsequent independent workload review groups produced reports offering advice on marking policies, planning and teaching resources, and data management (A workload audit, SecEd, May 2017: http://bit.ly/2AbRG7o).

These reports have gone some way to inform teachers and leaders on practical ways in which workload can be reduced and when you combine these with Sean Harford’s Ofsted myth-busting campaign (Ofsted inspections: Myths, October 2017: http://bit.ly/2rKBR4d), there has been plenty of information about ways we can reduce workload.

I fear that even if school leaders fully endorse and implement all these suggestions, we would only be scratching the surface. If we are serious about reducing workload then there is one major factor that has been omitted from the narrative – funding. 

I believe that if I can create the conditions in which my staff can thrive, then the students in turn will also flourish. However, my biggest challenge is that because schools are so inadequately funded, my teachers are delivering 44 out of 50 lessons in a two-week timetable and this is extremely challenging. How can they possibly be teaching at their best when they only have six no-contact periods per fortnight?

Sadly, I don’t see a great deal of change on the horizon and the promise of fairer funding does not appear to be making any difference whatsoever to my school budget, especially when the costs incurred by schools continue to soar. 

If the government is genuine in its pursuit of solving the teacher shortage and reducing workload, then we would see a steep rise in the levels of funding. And this is just not happening.

Read the full article Diary of a headteacher: Workload – the saga continues

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