How are the workload recommendations possible, if recent curriculum reform offer little lead-in time and examinations ask for even tougher assessment?
You could be pardoned for missing the workload principles published by the Department for Education (DfE). Why? Because it was Easter and many teachers had long-forgotten their lesson plans and marking.
Yet Nicky Morgan wrote to each of the workload team chairs, affirming:
… there is no single factor that has led to increased workload … your reports brilliantly articulate why this situation has arisen and, most importantly, what can be done to address it.”
The key issue:
What infuriates me most is that the real issue has still not been tackled – although I admire the good work of colleagues who have invested time and energy, working with inspectors and policymakers to highlight issues and help to hone recommended principles.
The timing of the publication of the workload principles and the recommendations will do little to change policy.
It is all well and good to be offered theory and to be told by the education secretary to “take the recommendations seriously”: that if schools applied these principles, workload would decrease. Yet, schools and school leaders need support, not a “badge of resilience” for playing along with current constraints and expectations.
Lead by example:
The DfE must start to lead by example. Do not publish reports to reduce workload when teachers are due to stop working.
Second, theories don’t cut the mark, but we do know common-sense ideologies work. If schools have impending Ofsted inspections and they are ranked unfavourably in league tables, you can understand why workload advice is difficult to heed.
There are some fantastic recommendations in each of the reports, yet the chairs admit in their letter to Morgan: “We know that a robust evidence base in the area of workload is weak.”
Despite Nicky Morgan’s passionate plea, without a fundamental change in school typology and funding, teachers will always need more time for planning and marking within their designated hours of employment.
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This is my sixth published article for @SchoolsWeek, a weekly newspaper covering all schools. Schools Week is a printed and online weekly newspaper covering the schools sector in England; aimed at those with a broad interest in education policy and finance, typically aspiring, middle/senior managers, leaders and governors across all schools.