Working Together on WorkloadOn January 25, 2020 by Raul Dinwiddie
I want teachers to spend their working hours
doing what’s right for children and to reduce the amount of time spent on unnecessary tasks.
And I want to work with the profession, with school leaders, with the unions, with Ofsted,
with everybody involved in education to make that a reality, and I do know there’s already
great work underway in terms of addressing workload, but we need to go further, and make
sure that everybody is clear about the things that teachers don’t need to do.
I do think we need a period of greater stability. Now, the pace of change has been fast but
also teachers have really stepped up to that challenge and we have standards in our schools
now that are higher than ever. Accountability is important. But it is also
important that everybody knows that we are on the same side and that accountability also
means the right support at the right time. I am committed to tackling workload, and supporting
everyone in education to do the same. The independent report on marking carried
a powerful message – if the impact on pupil progress doesn’t match the hours spent then
stop it. This is an important mantra for all of us.
We want to make sure every teacher knows what DfE and Ofsted do and equally do not expect
to see schools doing. The origins of the audit culture are complex,
but we do know there’s no proven link between some time consuming tasks around planning,
marking and data drops and improved outcomes for pupils.
It’s not about onerous endless marking, it’s about making sure that we’re using the feedback
to give children the best opportunity to make progress.
And we found with the evidence that when you do feedback in a way which is teachers doing
more and more work after school, that isn’t what makes a difference. It’s about what they
do in the classroom. We the EEF’s “A marked improvement?” review
of the evidence on written marking to inform our approach which was a move away from written
marking towards giving children other forms of feedback.
We found that teachers saved on average 3 and a half hours a week from their workload
and that there was no difference in terms of standards and outcomes for
children, they all remained high across the school.
It can take brave leadership to tackle existing orthodoxies in schools and get rid of routines
that are sometimes established and expected. At Linton we removed the need for half termly
whole school data drops – this was in recognition of the fact that for many subjects this just
wasn’t feasible. We want to bust the myths about what Ofsted
want to see. Ofsted inspectors do not expect to see a particular
frequency or quantity of work in pupils books. Inspectors will consider how feedback is used
to promote learning, but don’t need to see written records of oral feedback.
Teachers don’t need to give individual lesson plans to inspectors and we don’t specify how
planning should be set out. Inspectors don’t require schools to predict
pupil attainment or progress scores. We do not require extensive pupil tracking. Schools
should use information that supports their pupils’ learning and to inform
parents, nothing else. No inspector should be asking for these things, and nobody else
should be telling you that this is what inspectors will be looking
for. I want you to know that you do have the backing to stop doing the things that aren’t
helping children to do better. Because above all else what matters is the person standing
at the front of the class, that person is the key to education.
We will work together to let that person concentrate on what they do best.