Why has the issue of workload reached epidemic proportions?
I am trying to stay calm. My legs are ‘jiggling up and down’ as I write, hoping that one day, someone will finally ‘turn on the lightbulb’ at the Department for Education.
Teachers’ workload is too high, with various organisations – including the DfE – reporting teachers, working in-excess of 55+ hour weeks just to keep on top of their day-to-day workload. At a time when teacher recruitment and retention is under severe pressure and school budgets at breaking point, school leaders understand the issues, but why does our government and external partners fail to challenge their own thinking about their policies and their influences?
Work-life balance, says Nigel Marsh, is too important to be left in the hands of your employer. If we do not design [our version of work-life balance], someone else will define it for you. And you may just not like what their idea of ‘balance’. It is particularly important, that you never leave your life in the hands of a commercial corporation. [For me, this means a school and/or OfSTED].
Why can’t our government be more open-minded to new ways of working in schools? Why do we continue to accept this pace to reform and fall for the rhetoric of ‘raising standards’ as the norm? Who wouldn’t want to improve?!
This dialogue is not sustainable and I fear for the profession … After 24 months since the Workload Challenge Report was published in February 2014, we now have a shiny poster for our office walls(!) and for every staff rooms up and down the country! Money well spent …
There are a few gems in this poster. Two for me being: 1) OfSTED says (which is part of the problem) and 2) Don’t waste your time on marking that is time-wasting and has no impact on outcomes. Who knew?!
Resource / Training:
On Saturday 11th March, I delivered two breakout sessions to over 200 delegates at the ASCL national conference in Birmingham, designed to provide opportunities to hear and contribute to the latest developments in the education sector, to network with a wide range of colleagues working in and beyond the UK, and to debate and discuss the best ways to secure excellence in our system and for our young people.
I was touched by the conversations I had with individuals – classroom teachers and headteachers – some who were in tears after my session, claiming that they too, needed to redefine their version of work-life balance. That they needed to take back control. In my training session, I offered 12 solutions for making schools, teachers and school leaders work smarter and seize control.
1. Research: what does the data tell us?
2. Workload groups findings
3. Breaking the monotony of everyday workload
4. Initial self-valuations about personal workload
5. Emails: how to switch off?
6. Leadership reviews: self-evaluation of workload on others
7. Strategies for meetings
8. Redefining our version of success
9. The work-life balance fallacy…
10. Marking ideas for every school
11. Planning ideas for every school
12. Teaching ideas for every school.
School leaders have as much responsibility as anyone else who manages their own workload, but leaders also have a responsibility to look out for the impact of their work on others. Every time you add something to your own or another person’s workload, you should commit to also take something away. But, is this really possible to achieve?
Download the PDF here.
*This resource is copyright of @TeacherToolkit.