Hire more admin staff to reduce our workload, demand teachers

A teaching union has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the impact of workload on education staff – as it revealed four in five staff have considered quitting because of their workload.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) this morning released a survey of more than 2,200 teachers, senior leaders and support staff from primary and secondary schools, as well as school sixth forms.

The survey found 81 per cent of teachers and 85 per cent of senior leaders said their workload was “unmanageable”.

The survey also found 91 per cent of staff believed “fewer changes to the curriculum” would reduce their workload. Having someone else to do admin, for 79 per cent of respondents, would also cut workload, and 77 per cent believed schools should introduce “work-life balance” policies.

ATL has today launched a campaign – It’s About Time – and hopes to pull together examples from staff of problematic tasks and solutions to cut workloads to present to the government. ATL has also developed a workload tracker so staff can plot what they spend time on and identify time-consuming tasks.

Respondents said tasks such as attending meetings (88 per cent) and data entry and analysis (82 per cent) were required by headteachers but were of “little benefit to pupils”.

Workload is slightly more manageable in secondary schools, with 22 per cent saying it is, in comparison to 18 per cent at primary schools. More primary school staff have considered leaving the profession (84 per cent) than secondary teachers (80 per cent).

ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said: “ATL has developed a workload tracker to help teachers, support staff, school and college managers and other education staff identify the top five things that are taking up their time, so they can check with colleagues common issues in their school or college and try to find solutions.

“We want stories of primary teachers crying from exhaustion on their kitchen floor to become a thing of the past, and an end to teachers being told that working until 11pm every night is just the way it is in teaching.”

Almost half (46 per cent) of primary school respondents said if their workload was more manageable they could spend time talking to individual parents or pupils. Overall, 46 per cent of respondents said a reduced workload would allow them to collaborate with colleagues and other professionals.

Dr Bousted said “little has improved for school staff” since the government’s Workload Challenge last year.

She said: “Teachers, support staff and school managers expect they will have to work hard and a heavy workload and stress are nothing new. But 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 cruel irony is much of the work school staff are doing is not making them better teachers or improving children’s education – it is photocopying, preparing resources and data analysis. If teachers could free up their time they would be able to spend more time doing things that make most difference to children’s learning such as actually talking to their pupils and their parents, working with other colleagues and learning from other colleagues’ teaching practice.”

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