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Workload Challenge one year on: 80 per cent of teachers say it’s still unmanageable

ATL survey finds teachers are ground down by tasks which take focus away from educating children

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) survey asked teachers what differences the government’s Workload Challenge had made to their lives, with 81 per cent of teachers and 85 per cent of senior leaders saying their workload was still unmanageable.

The situation is slightly better, but still unsustainable, for support staff with 54 per cent feeling their workload is unmanageable.

Over nine in ten teachers (91 per cent) say having fewer changes to the curriculum would make the most difference to their workload. While 76 per cent say having a more reliable inspection system would cut their workload.

The other most significant ways to reduce workload, according to education staff were as follows:
79 per cent: Cutting admin
78 per cent: Having an appraisal objective to reduce workload
77 per cent: Having a school work-life balance policy
75 per cent: Fewer meetings
74 per cent: Being able to choose how and how often to mark
70 per cent: Better programmes for data entry and analysis

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “The current situation is hugely damaging and unsustainable. The excessive workload is damaging teachers’ health, making many want to leave the profession and means they are often exhausted in class. The Government needs to acknowledge it is responsible for much of the current workload because staff have to keep re-planning what they are doing to keep up with changes to the curriculum.”

The survey found that unnecessary work is also stopping staff getting on with tasks that would be of greater benefit to children’s education. Overall, 46 per cent said they would like to spend more time collaborating with colleagues or other professionals to improve their teaching and 45 per cent would like to spend more time talking one-to-one with pupils or their parents.

ATL has developed a campaign, It’s About Time, to raise awareness of the impact of workload on all education staff, identify tasks which are most problematic and help find practical solutions so staff can cut their own workloads and those of colleagues. And a workload tracker that will allow staff to plot what they spend time on so they can identify the most time consuming tasks and see where they could do things differently.

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Pie Corbett