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Workload Reduction Taskforce: Initial recommendations


This report covers the initial recommendations from the workload reduction taskforce, including next steps. The report also includes a joint response to the recommendations from the Minister of State for Schools and the General Secretaries of the main teaching and leadership unions.

The taskforce will help support the Department for Education’s ambition to reduce teachers’ and leaders’ working hours by 5 hours a week within 3 years.

Process for agreeing recommendations

At the first meeting of the Taskforce on 20 September 2023, the members agreed to setup a subgroup to look specifically at the initial recommendations required by the end ofOctober. The subgroup met on 5 October and developed the following recommendations,which were subsequently reviewed and agreed by the full Taskforce membership. They have since been ratified by the Minister of State for Schools and the general secretaries of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), National Education Union (NEU), National Assocation of Head Teachers (NAHT) and National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT).


Performance Related Pay:

In addition to the original remit for the initial recommendations, the Taskforce also considered the significant administrative / workload burden of Performance Related Pay (PRP). There are also concerns that PRP works poorly in practice and does not have a commensurate positive impact on teaching and learning. The Taskforce, therefore, recommends a formal commitment to consult with statutory consultees on PRP with a view to removal in line with the School Teachers’ Review Body’s (STRB’s) observation and in time for the 2024/25 academic year.

Administrative tasks:

A revised annex should be reinserted in the STPCD with an updated list of examples of administrative tasks that teachers should not be required to carry out. It should be re-emphasised, as currently stated in the STPCD, that teachers and school leaders should not be required to carry out activities that do not require their professional skills or judgement. The draft proposed list of tasks and revised preamble is included in the annex at the end of this document.

Particular attention is drawn to the preamble and the questions it poses, most especially and fundamentally, does a task need to be done at all? This applies to both teachers and leaders.
General recommendations for strengthening implementation of the 2016 workload review groups’ recommendations and maximising signup to the charter

General recommendations for strengthening implementation of the 2016 workload review groups’ recommendations and maximising signup to the charter:

The Secretary of State and teaching and leadership unions, working with organisations such as the Confederation of School Trusts, Local Government Association and National Governance Association, should remind all schools of the importance of the recommendations from the 2016 independent workload review groups and 2018 Workload Advisory Group, and raise awareness of the education staff wellbeing charter. Communications should be aimed at teachers, leaders, governors, trustees and local authorities.

The DfE should continue to embed the review and advisory groups’ recommendations and the charter throughout initial teacher training (ITT), the early career framework (ECF) and the national professional qualifications (NPQs), including through working with providers.

The DfE should amend guidance to governors and trustees so that the core function of strategic leadership includes consideration of staff workload and wellbeing when setting the school’s / trust’s strategic priorities.

All school and trust governance bodies should publicly commit to and actively promote the recommendations of the workload review and advisory groups, aspart of a renewed drive to reduce workload around planning, marking and data management.

The STRB’s observation was that ‘the obligation on schools to use the current model should be removed’.

Schools and trusts should consider the merits of assigning a senior leader with dedicated responsibility for improving wellbeing and reducing workload, working with union representatives and staff. The senior leader could be a trust leader or headteacher. The DfE, working with the Taskforce, should consider the merits of promoting a named leader responsible for wellbeing and workload.

Recommendations for strengthening the implementation of the 2016 independent workload review groups’ and the 2018 Workload Advisory Group’s recommendations:

Ofsted should update and re-publish the ‘Clarification for Schools’ document as a separate document, to include re-emphasising what is not required around marking, planning and data (as highlighted by the independent reports), and communicate it clearly to schools and trusts as well as publicly via social media to improve reach to all audiences.

The DfE should provide comms / guidance to parents on what the review group recommended on marking and feedback.

Schools should consider working throughout the year with all relevant stakeholders, such as teaching unions, on the specific workload concerns of their setting, using the recommendations of the reports wherever relevant. Schools may want to consider using INSET time to look at addressing workload issues and the DfE should consider remitting the STRB to include an additional INSET day, at the earliest opportunity.

The DfE should commit to enhancing knowledge and accessibility of the School Workload Reduction Toolkit, including improving the design for users and ensuring that case studies and resources remain relevant and include new, impactful, solutions that schools and trusts have implemented.

The DfE and Ofsted should publish a joint update on their success in maintaining the commitments they made to accept and implement the recommendations for their respective organisations. Recommendations for maximising sign-up to the education staff wellbeing charter

The DfE should explore how to celebrate and recognise signatories to the charter, once further awareness of the charter is raised, including publishing case studies that demonstrate the positive impact of signing up and using the tools available.

The DfE, schools, trusts, local authorities, and teaching and leadership unions should each promote the value of union health and safety representatives and workplace health and safety committees in improving wellbeing, facilitating charter sign-up, and ensuring the benefits of signing up are felt across the workforce.

We draw attention to the DfE governance handbook which requires boards to have due regard for the wellbeing and mental health of senior leadership teams and teaching staff and states that they may want to consider having a designated governor as a wellbeing champion.

The DfE, alongside partners involved in the original Expert Advisory Group on Wellbeing, should commit to reviewing the content of the charter by 2025 – with a task and finish group established in 2024 – to ensure that it remains fit for purpose.

The DfE, working with trade unions and employers, should continue to promote and embed a diverse range of flexible working opportunities in schools. This should include raising awareness of the support available, including the funded programme of webinars and bespoke coaching offered by Flexible Working Ambassador MATS and schools (FWAMS) and the Flexible Working Toolkit. It should also involve developing additional case studies on effective flexible working solutions that schools and trusts have implemented.

To read about the next steps, click here.

Sector Response

The general secretaries of school leaders’ union NAHT; the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL); and National Education Union (NEU), said:

“We are pleased that the taskforce’s initial set of recommendations has been accepted. We particularly welcome the news that the government will be removing the obligation for schools to use performance-related pay from September.

“It has become increasingly clear that not only does performance-related pay not work in the education sector, but it also drives unnecessary workload and bureaucracy for leaders and teachers alike. Its removal is a positive step. We will now work closely with the Department for Education to ensure that any updated guidance replacing it is fit for purpose and reduces workload burdens.

“Reinserting a list of bureaucratic tasks that teachers and leaders should not be expected to do into the school teachers’ pay and conditions document is also helpful and the new non-exhaustive examples better reflect how schools operate in 2024. Of course, the update is only a very small part of the work that now needs to take place if we are to begin to see the reductions in workload we all aspire to.

“We look forward to participating in the more substantive discussions on workload drivers and how to tackle them as part of the taskforce’s ongoing work over the coming weeks and months.”


  • Geoff Barton, general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders
  • Paul Whiteman, general secretary at school leaders’ union NAHT
  • Daniel Kebede, general secretary at the National Education Union

James Zuccollo, Director for School Workforce at the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said:

“Given the huge recruitment and retention challenges facing schools, and the significant concerns held by the profession about the impact of teacher workload, it is important that the government continues to work closely with the sector to act on this issue.

“One of the main recommendations made by the taskforce is the removal of Performance Related Pay requirements (PRP). Research has shown that PRP requirements have had a minimal impact on school’s practices whilst creating an additional administrative burden for schools, so removing these would be a sensible step.

“However, it is vitally important that we retain the most talented teachers in the profession and financially rewarding them for their outsized impact on pupils’ lives may be part of the answer. Removing the PRP requirements must not constrain headteachers’ ability to reward and retain their best teachers, particularly when average pay across the profession continues to fall further behind that of other graduate professions.”

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