Tackling the Workload Problem

23 Oct

You won’t find me saying this often but….. well done to the Westminster Department for Education.  Through a speech made by the Deputy Prime Minister they have taken an important first step in tackling the issue of workload for teachers.  I say well done, let’s not make the mistake of believing that this is a decision that has not been forced upon them.  The support that both the Lib Dems and Conservatives have been hemorrhaging amongst the motivated electorate of the teaching workforce has been the key statistic that has forced them to sack a Secretary of State for Education, and now to openly acknowledge some of the big issues that the NUT and others have been consistently highlighting.  Still, no matter what prompted this initiative it is to be welcomed.

It is really positive to hear Nick Clegg recognising teachers must be liberated from “burdensome workloads” and aiming to address the “misguided impression” that teaching is a career built on short days and long holidays.  Actions of course speak louder than words, but those words are nonetheless still important.

You get the clear sense that the door that the profession has been banging on for some time on the issue of workload is starting to creep open at Whitehall.  Yes this is about teacher’s votes, but it can also be about dramatically improving standards.  Reducing workload pressures on teachers, which we know are unsustainable, will not only benefit those individuals but also their pupils.  We will not only have more motivated teachers able to do the jobs they have been trained to do, but we will see more empowered and focused students as a results.

This is an issue that is also on the Welsh agenda.  Opposition parties have begun making their pitches on tackling the bureaucracy of teaching and I expect it to be one of the central commitments across the education manifesto’s in the run up to the 2016 Welsh election.

It is exciting that the DfE in England are seeking teachers views on how we can create a more streamline and effective system.  Judgement on if this is more than a pre-election olive branch will be seen in the delivery of any tangible action of course.  What teachers in Wales would certainly like to see is the Welsh Government make a similar offer.  A commission or consultation into the challenges here that will allow teachers to identify where there are existing workload problems.  What policies are causing unnecessary workload problems. Directly or indirectly.  Intended or unintended.



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