Schools

Business leaders should be on workload taskforce, says ISBL

The body representing school business leaders said it did 'not understand' why they'd been left out

The body representing school business leaders said it did 'not understand' why they'd been left out

18 Sep 2023, 12:36

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School business leaders should be included in drive to cut teacher workload, says ISBL

An organisation representing school business leaders has demanded to know why they’ve been omitted from a new workload reduction taskforce, saying finance staff will be required to make a success of cutting working hours.

Under the taskforce, announced yesterday, fourteen sector leaders will be charged with slashing five hours from the working week of teachers and school leaders.

But Stephen Morales, chief executive of the Institute of School Business Leadership (ISBL), said he could “not understand” why no school business or finance leaders had been included.

“The only thing I can imagine is that this is symptomatic of a lack of joined up thinking,” he told Schools Week.

“Take a medium-sized trust [for example] – 200 teachers, plus five hours of each workload, there’s going to a financial implication to that,” he said.

“If you want a broad and rich curriculum, you want to be financially sustainable and you want to reduce hours, that’s going to be an incredibly skilful task.

“It’s going to require all sorts of stakeholders and all sorts of concessions and joined-up leadership between pedagogy, business and governance professionals.”

Morales said he would get “in touch” with officials in the Department for Education (DfE) today to both ask why the ISBL was not approached, and to offer its support with the taskforce.

“To not be included in this conversation feels weird,” he said.

The workload taskforce was promised by the government alongside its pay deal with unions to end teacher strikes in July.

The DfE said its ambition was to reduce working hours by five hours per week for teachers and school leaders over the next three years.

An initial meeting will take place this week.

Business leaders can model costs of workload reductions

Micon Metcalfe, chief financial officer at the Diocese of Westminster Academy, and a former member of the government’s teachers’ professional development expert group, also questioned the omission of school finance leaders.

“Think this might’ve benefited from a sector finance [or operations lead],” she wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“We bring perspective from other sectors plus can support modelling the cost of additional tasks/time”.

Among those included in the taskforce are James Bowen, assistant general secretary at leaders’ union NAHT and Emma Knights, co-chief executive at the National Governance Association (NGA).

Leaders’ union ASCL welcomed the taskforce, but its general secretary Geoff Barton said it remained “sceptical about whether there is the will in government to take some of the steps that are required to produce systemic change”.

Announcing the move, schools minister Nick Gibb said the government wanted to “build on past successes” in reducing workloads.

It would do this by removing “additional burdens, so that teachers can focus on what they do best: teach.”

The DfE has also called on school leadership teams to sign up to share their views on reducing workloads with researchers.

The department said it had limited the number of taskforce members “to enable it to develop meaningful recommendations at pace”.

“Reducing workload has a range of implications on a school that will need to be balanced and we will consider the views of other relevant organisations as the work of the Taskforce progresses,” it added.

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