Secret Teacher: help, I’m drowning in admin

Writing in the Guardian, this week’s Secret Teacher asks when did teaching stop being about exciting lessons and giving meaningful feedback, and just become an endless stream of box-ticking and paperwork…

…It was all going well until about 18 months ago. That, to me, was when everything changed in education. It went crazy. Free periods were no longer about spending time on my classes and the future of our department. After school time stopped being about giving children extra help and running extra-curricular clubs that would nourish their passion for my subject.

Suddenly, those things were no longer important. What was important now was data. Six times a year we were required to fill out little boxes about every single child we taught. Not meaningful comments designed to help children progress, just grades and numbers in boxes.

The columns swam in front of my tired, admin-hating eyes. Instead of being trusted to manage our departments’ assessment programme, we had to do “work sampling” every half term, as though our colleagues were not trusted professionals. It felt like sneaking. And worst of all, we were expected to produce formal exams for every single year group at the end of every term. Every term! That’s seven meaningful exam papers every term in a practical subject that gets one period per week of teaching.

Where was the pedagogy in all this? I could find absolutely no educational thinking which supported this new tactic of examining the children until they were cowering little stress bunnies. What happened to Inside The Black Box? To formative assessment? To giving students the chance to grow and understand before we stuffed them in a scary exam hall?

…You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned Gove yet. Well, that’s mainly because I actually think that it’s not just about him. It’s about the way that schools have reacted to his changes. From what I can see, the main way is with knee-jerk panic. No pedagogical thought and intelligent debate went into the decisions at my school. It was fear. Education has become a horror film in which senior leadership teams are just trying to keep the wolves from the door by any means possible, and it’s happening everywhere…

More at: Secret Teacher: help, I’m drowning in admin

Have you also noticed a significant shift in the amount of admin required from teachers in the past eighteen months or so or has it always been an unwelcome part of the job? What would you do to reduce the amount of admin required from teachers without compromising the role? Please give us your ideas in the comments or via Twitter…

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Categories: Teaching.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Education is currently obsessed with data – this is fuelled by Ofsted who require statistical evidence for everything.

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove The trouble is that data can’t be manipulated to show just about anything you want it show if you are clever enough

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