How do we support schools and teachers to reduce workload?
Devised to help teachers and leaders regain control of their workload and wellbeing. The best schools, teachers and leaders manage their workload so they can focus on making high-impact ideas, work well.
The Workload Issues
The 5-Minute Workload Plan has been designed to help schools, leaders and teachers review their current workload. It can also help review new initiatives to see whether they are worth introducing and if “yes” instead of what.
Whilst accepting some issues which are adding significantly to schools’ and teachers’ workload are outside of our control (see @LeadingLearner’s post here), there are other issues which we can address as teachers and leaders.
The plan allows you to identify your top workload issues and consider them alongside each other.
If you are struggling with ideas, the most unnecessary and unproductive tasks are identified in the recent Workload Challenge Report (highlighted as a useful summary by the Department for Education).
Here’s an explanation of how to use the plan …
Having identified a workload issue, it is worth pausing to consider whether it is important and its potential impact.
A simple question is, “What would happen if I didn’t implement this initiative/task at this moment in time?”
For some initiatives, like important changes to the testing or examination system, which would have a high impact on children, they would be graded a high priority (H). Not everything can be important and some things don’t have a particularly high impact. These should be categorised as medium (M) or of low (L) priority.
It is necessary to consider the importance and potential impact of issues and initiatives on priorities like standards, the quality of teaching & learning or the care, support or guidance of children.
You may already be at the point where you can abandon some current or proposed practices as they have limited impact or are of low importance.
Abandon current problems
We seem to be far better at increasing our workload than taking a hard cold look at what we do.
It’s important to create the time and space to do a smaller number of tasks well. It may be a whole system, set of activities or individual elements which can be abandoned, binned and consigned to history.
Some tasks may never have been that important or had any impact. Others may have been overtaken by more important, impactful ways of working. Every time you add something to your or another person’s workload, you should commit to also taking something away.
Do More, Do Less?
This is a slightly less drastic step than abandonment.
It requires careful analysis of the various elements that make up a task or system. They may be some aspects which are worth doing more of. There will undoubtedly be other elements you could do less of and still maintain the overall quality or impact. What would you do more or less when planning for your classes, or tracking progress, or ensuring high-quality feedback for students?
For example, more use of numbered success criteria means less writing the same comments at the bottom of a class’s work.
One important way to improve your effectiveness and decrease workload is to increase your individual, department’s or school’s capacity.
Time is finite, and abandoning some practices, for example, completing administrative tasks in meetings to replace them with collaborative planning of learning, can yield real benefits.
Small costs associated with employing support staff can give teachers valuable time, as can the effective use of technology and fit-for-purpose software. Creating more professional development time for staff, by finishing slightly earlier, one afternoon per week, is an approach increasingly used by many schools.
Training and development can help staff become more skilled and reduce the time taken to complete tasks.
Here is an example of how the plan can work. Download the template: The 5-Minute Workload Plan.
You can read more from the 5 Minute Plan Series here, with over 40 templates on offer for free to help reduce your workload!