From education to employment

New taskforce to tackle teacher workload  

Black teacher at white board
  • Government announces membership of Taskforce working towards reducing teacher and leader workload, alongside support to embed flexible working
  • Ambition over the next three years to reduce working hours by five hours per week for teachers and school leaders
  • Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy update expected later this year, continuing our commitment to attract the brightest and the best to the profession

Work is underway to support teachers and leaders to tackle unnecessary workload, as the Government establishes a new taskforce of unions, teachers, and sector leaders.  The taskforce will help support the Government’s wider ambition to reduce working hours for teachers and leaders by five hours per week within three years.   

The launch of the Workload Reduction Taskforce follows the 6.5% pay award announced in July when the Education Secretary committed to reducing teacher and leader workload.

The group of 14 includes representatives from all four teaching unions, as well as teachers, leaders , academics and other sector experts. The variety of expertise within the group will provide insight from across all parts of the education sector, from on the ground perspectives to those in positions of management and leadership. The first meeting will take place later this week.   

Alongside measures to tackle workload, the Department for Education is also planning an update to its Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy to continue to attract, support and develop the highly skilled teachers needed to inspire the next generation. 

Schools Minister, Nick Gibb said:   

“We’ve seen rising schools standards over the last decade, and that wouldn’t be possible without the work of great teachers. We do, however, continue to hear the concerns of teachers and school leaders about workload, which is why we want to build on the past successes in reducing workloads and continue to remove additional burdens, so that teachers can focus on what they do best: teach. 

“This builds on the generous pay rise agreed earlier this year, as part of the Government’s continued commitment to building a highly skilled, well supported teaching profession.” 

This builds on a report from earlier this year that found two-thirds of teachers reported that they spent over half of their working time on tasks other than teaching, rising to 77% of secondary teachers. 

School leaders will also receive support to embed flexible working in their schools, as a new toolkit is set to be launched later this month with practical resources to help them implement practices including job shares, part-time working and ad-hoc flexibility such as the occasional personal day. A further five new Flexible Working Ambassador Multi-Academy Trusts and Schools (FWAMS) have today (18 September) been announced, complementing the seven announced in June this year.  

The FWAMS appointed are Lapal Primary School of Hales Valley Trust, Newport Girls’ High School Academy Trust, Aspire Alternative Provision School, The Halifax Academy of Impact Education Multi-Academy Trust, and The Reach Academy Feltham of The Reach Academy Trust.  

Michael Scott, of Newport Girls’ High School said:  

“Newport Girls’ High School is delighted to be re-designated as the Flexible Working Ambassador MAT/School for the West Midlands region. Having helped a number of Trusts to improve their flexible working offer during phase one of the project in 2021-2022, we look forward to spreading the word further and wider over the next two years.”  

The FWAMS will champion flexible working and provide bespoke peer support in how to implement it within the profession. This delivers on the commitments in the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy.   

Since its launch nearly five years ago, the Department has made considerable progress in delivering its Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy to attract, retain and develop the highly skilled teachers needed to inspire the next generation. This includes implementing a ‘golden thread’ of professional development, ensuring all teachers have access to high-quality training and support at every stage of their career.  

This winter, the Department will publish a strategy update that builds upon its commitment to give every child a world class education delivered by great teachers. The update will provide an update on delivery of previous commitments, and set out priorities for the coming years.

Sector Response

Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary, said:

“Our dispute with government this year was about more than money. It was also about intolerable workload and inspection pressures.

“Included in the offer from government were important commitments to tackle workload and inspection pressure. The workload task force is an important step to bring about those commitments. As part of the offer settled, the taskforce caries the significant responsibility of achieving the government’s commitments.

“We look forward to working with the DfE and others to highlight some of the causes of unsustainable workload and to help find solutions through this taskforce.

“It’s absolutely vital that this results in tangible change which makes a real difference to our members’ working day and frees them up to concentrate their energies on what they do best – providing effective, inspirational leadership.

“The commitments made by government are part of a deal and we intend to make sure that they are delivered alongside a continuing focus to restore pay over future pay rounds.”

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“We are pleased to be represented on the new workload reduction taskforce and with the government’s focus on this issue, which all the evidence shows is a major factor in teachers and leaders leaving the profession.

“However, we remain sceptical about whether there is the will in government to take some of the steps that are required to produce systemic change. High levels of workload are driven by the underfunding of the education system, which leaves teachers and leaders doing more work with fewer resources, and an accountability system of inspections and performance tables which is excessive and punitive. In order to genuinely tackle workload there will need to be some readiness on the part of the government to accept and take action to address these problems.

“Change must happen. We simply cannot continue with a situation in which recruitment targets for trainee teachers are constantly missed and where many of the people who join the profession then leave early in their careers. This cannot go on. The whole education system is creaking under the strain of this unsustainable churn of teachers and leaders with a clear and present danger to education standards and provision.”

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