by Tim Lezard Teachers have welcomed the government’s announcement they will be asked for ways to reduce their workload. Since 2010, teachers’ workloads have risen so that primary teachers are now working 59.3 hours a week (an increase of nine hours), …

teachers classroomby Tim Lezard

Teachers have welcomed the government’s announcement they will be asked for ways to reduce their workload.

Since 2010, teachers’ workloads have risen so that primary teachers are now working 59.3 hours a week (an increase of nine hours), with secondary teachers working 55.6 hours (an increase of six hours).

An NUT survey shows 90% of teachers had considered giving up teaching during the last two years because of workload, 87% knew one or more colleagues who had given up and 96.5% said their workload had negative consequences for their family or personal life.

Launching the workload challenge, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will say today that teachers must be liberated from “burdensome workloads” and spend more time in the classroom.

Teachers are being asked to suggest ways they can reduce their workload by taking part in a survey on the TES website.

NUT deputy general secretary Christine Blower said: “The announcement of a consultation on teacher workload is welcome news and a testament to the NUT’s campaigning on this critical and central issue for teachers.

“Our own polling on workload shows that teachers are exhausted and have no time for a life outside of work or even enough time to prepare the exciting lessons they would like to teach.

“NUT members have given full support to our Stand up for Education campaign which featured, amongst other issues, teacher workload. Thousands of members have lobbied MPs and engaged in social media campaigns to get out the message from our Education Manifesto.

“There have been street stalls and Education Question Times the length and breadth of England and Wales, to take our manifesto to both politicians and the general public.

“Workload has gone up significantly under this government with many working 60 hours a week. It is unsustainable and resulting in the loss from the profession of a great many good teachers both young and older.

“The Union’s National Executive will meet this week to consider our consultative ballot and put in place the next phase of our campaign to defend members and promote a vision of a better education for all.

“We are pleased that government is listening to us. We will need to see real and significant change. It is desperately needed.”

ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said: “ATL is pleased the Coalition Government is finally taking teachers’ workloads seriously. It is a tragedy that for so long teachers and school leaders have felt pressurised into doing tasks which do nothing to improve children’s education.

“Teachers are spending too many hours on bureaucratic tasks such as five-page lesson plans, or multi-coloured marking, instead of being allowed to focus on effective teaching and learning to meet the needs of their pupils.

“We don’t expect that teachers will hold back when responding to the Coalition’s workload survey via the TES website. Politicians will find they have opened Pandora’s Box.

“Teachers will have far reaching, and challenging things to say about Ofsted, because it has driven so much unproductive work, and about the pace and nature of education change and the Coalition’s reckless approach to qualification and curriculum reform.

Ultimately teachers’ workload will only be reduced when politicians learn to respect the demanding and difficult work teachers and school leaders do. Regrettably, we are still some way off that.”

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “Nicky Morgan has only been in office a few weeks but she has been unable to avoid recognising the excessive workload burden under which the teaching profession is labouring.

“Nick Clegg has been in office for the entirety of this Coalition Government, on whose watch teacher workload has spiralled out of control.

“The fact that finally there is public recognition by Coalition Ministers of the problem and the need for action is to be welcomed and is a result of the NASUWT’s action and campaigning on this matter.

“However, whilst the ‘workload challenge’ may produce some useful information, Ministers already have a wealth of  detailed data on the extent of the problem, the nature of  teachers’ concerns and the key drivers of excessive workload.

“For the last three years the NASUWT has provided ministers with detailed evidence as a result of year on year surveys of thousands of teachers. Numerous other pieces of research, including by ComRes and the DfE’s own workload diary surveys have added to the extensive information available. All of this information has been provided by teachers themselves

“The excessive workload, which is blighting the profession and adversely affecting recruitment, retention and teachers’ health and well-being, will never be effectively addressed until Ministers accept full responsibility for the contribution their policies have made and recognise the need for change. This is no time simply to be rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic.

“All evidence shows that teachers are tired, angry and demoralised. Their professionalism, pay, pensions and conditions of service have been relentlessly attacked by this Coalition. 61% of teachers have seriously considered leaving the profession in the last year, a figure which has risen year on year since 2011. Excessive workload is teachers’ number one concern.

“If Nicky Morgan and Nick Clegg are genuinely concerned about teachers’ workload they will need to deliver swift and effective measures to alleviate their burdens. Without this, the workload challenge runs the risk of being dismissed as a cosmetic exercise, cynically designed to seek to curry favour with teachers in the run up to the General Election.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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