DfE’s workload reduction taskforce: the ‘early’ recommendations in full

Workforce advisers call for wellbeing champions, stopping teachers decorating classrooms and another INSET day

Workforce advisers call for wellbeing champions, stopping teachers decorating classrooms and another INSET day

The government’s teacher workload taskforce has published early recommendations from its work to help minsters meet their pledge to cut five hours from the working week of school staff.

Headline proposals include ditching performance-related pay and introducing a workload-focused INSET day, although the government has snubbed the latter. You can read more about these in our news story here.

Here is the full list of all the proposals made today. All but one of the recommendations have been accepted by government.

The full findings will be published in “Spring 2024”.

The workload taskforce’s ‘early’ recommendations: in full

  • Scrap performance-related pay (PRP) as it “works poorly in practice”, with a consultation on axing it “in time for the 2024-25 academic year”. Government has committed to a “rapid” review to replace PRP from September 1 with a “less bureaucratic way to manage performance fairly and transparently”. Changes to be communicated in Spring.
  • Schools and trusts should consider assigning a senior leader “with dedicated responsibility for improving wellbeing and reducing workload”. DfE should “consider the merits of promoting a named leader responsible for wellbeing and workload”.
  • DfE may “want to consider having a designated governor as a wellbeing champion”.
  • Schools “may want to consider using INSET time to look at addressing workload issues”. DfE should also “consider remitting the STRB to include an additional INSET day, at the earliest opportunity”. Government said another INSET day is “not the right course of action”. Instead, they will work with schools to “make use” of the current five INSET days for workload reduction.
  • The taskforce said a revised list of administrative tasks that teachers should not be required to do (*see the full list at the end of this article) should be reinserted in the school teachers’ pay and conditions document (STPCD). Examples include that teachers should not collect money from pupils and parents, have to mange getting cover for absent teachers, do bulk photocopying or investigate a pupil’s absence. They also should not have duties over “organisation, decoration and assembly” of classrooms.
  • All school and trust governance bodies should publicly commit to and actively promote the recommendations of the workload review and advisory groups.
  • The department should “amend guidance to governors and trustees so that the core function of strategic leadership includes consideration of staff workload and wellbeing” when setting the school’s or trust’s strategic priorities.
  • Ofsted’s ‘clarification for schools‘ should be updated and republished as a separate document, re-emphasising “what is not required around marking, planning and data”.
  • The DfE, and the original expert advisory group on wellbeing members, should commit to reviewing the content of the charter by 2025 – with a task and finish group established in 2024 – to ensure that it “remains fit for purpose”.
  • DfE, schools, trusts, local authorities, and teaching and leadership unions should “promote the value of union health and safety representatives and workplace health and safety committees in improving wellbeing, facilitating charter sign-up, and ensuring the benefits of signing up are felt across the workforce”.
  • DfE should provide communications and guidance to parents on what the review group recommends relating to marking and feedback.
  • DfE should “continue to embed” the review and advisory groups’ recommendations throughout initial teacher training (ITT), the early career framework (ECF) and the national professional qualifications (NPQs), including through working with providers.
  • DfE and Ofsted should publish a joint update on their “success in maintaining the commitments they made to accept and implement the recommendations”.

So what happens next?

The group will now look at themes including the impact and unintended consequences of accountability on workload, which will include school inspection.

Also under the microscope will be contractual provisions in the STPCD, technological solutions, the impact of pressures on wider public services on schools, parental expectations and complaints, and culture across the education system.

They will also continue exploring “as a matter of urgency” further options to strengthen the implementation of the 2016 workload review group recommendations.

Final recommendations will be put to government, Ofsted, and school and trust leaders by the end of March.

*The full list of administrative tasks the taskforce says teachers shouldn’t have to do

  • Managing and transferring data about pupils into school management systems or printing electronic records for paper filing
  • Reformatting data or re-entering it into multiple systems
  • Producing photographic evidence of practical lessons
  • Creating or copying  files perceived to be required in anticipation of inspection
  • Administration or data analysis relating to wraparound care and preparation of meals
  • Administration of public and internal examinations
  • Collating pupil reports, such as of pupil examination results
  • Producing and collating analyses of attendance figures.
  • Investigating a pupil’s absence 
  • Responsibility for producing, copying, uploading and distributing bulk communications to parents and pupils
  • Administration relating to school visits, trips and residentials and of work experience
  • Organisation, decoration and assembly of the physical classroom space
  • Ordering, setting up and maintaining ICT equipment, software, and virtual learning environments
  • Ordering supplies and equipment
  • Cataloguing, preparing, issuing, stocktaking, and maintaining materials and equipment, or logging the absence of such
  • Collecting money from pupils and parents
  • Administration of cover for absent teachers
  • Co-ordinating and submitting bids (for funding, school status and the like)
  • Administration of medical consent forms and administering of medication on a routine or day-to-day basis
  • Taking, copying, distributing or typing up notes or producing formal minutes
  • Producing class lists or physical copies of context sheets 
  • Keeping and filing paper or electronic records and data
  • Bulk photocopying

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    • Rubina Darr

      Thankfully we have tried hard to be so mindful of what not to expect teachers to do.
      Leaders too take on the bulk of some tasks so as not to pressure class teachers.Staff need to know and feel they matter!
      Maybe so many will not leave a profession they love!!
      Look after people and they will stay.

    • So the governments answer is to give back the administration tasks to admin that they have forced onto teachers because schools don’t have enough staff because the government hasn’t got enough funding especially now there is a huge deficit on the DfE budget.
      Nothing to do with the fact staff have a huge workload due to overpopulated classrooms, the increased workload of the vast curriculum that focuses on quantity of education rather than quality. An education system that focuses on ticking boxes and providing evidence of teaching rather than focusing on students actually learning.
      If sats were scrapped that would take a huge workload of teachers in years 5+6 as let’s be real that’s nothing to do with students and more about teachers ability as students are also given evaluation tests when beginning year 7 to see if they are in the right class.
      If enough time was given in the week where students could choose their own learning creating positive thinkers, creative minds while teachers did planning and marking important work then surely that’s more positive that assigning well-being champion.
      If teachers didn’t have to do soo much planning and providing proof they have planned, evaluating lessons, marking every worksheet, being Sen support for multiple students who aren’t entitled to an ehcp because the local authority doesn’t have funding for them, then maybe their workload wouldn’t be so high and they would be able to go home on time and actually relax with family and friends instead of marking/planning/evaluating.

    • Support

      What an arrogant and self centred reply Theresa, to say these should be dome by administrative staff without reservations. You’ll find most support or administrative staff willing to go above and beyond to help support, the arrogance and self centred view of the few teachers who instantly insist on state it’s not my job, as you have so eloquently done here, shows the exact reason you will be met with resistance.

      It’s all well and good having a “we’re all in it together” attitude when it includes everyone, as ever a few persist with the us and them attitude without looking at it from the other side. Doesn’t apply to all teachers, but I certainly wouldn’t be rushing to help you with what “wasn’t your responsibility”.

    • Jo Davey

      Admin staff are also busy and schools don’t have the funding to employ more admin staff, even if the staff were available (there’s a national shortage of school admin, just like teachers). These means that some things just won’t happen. E.g. one attendance officer can’t chase up all absences in a large secondary. If teachers won’t do it, absences just won’t be chased and the DfE can give up on its attendance strategy. Also, Ofsted can’t expect displays if schools don’t have or can’t afford staff to put them up. Unintended consequences?

      • Nothings new.
        Nothings changed its just a good line. We have a workload taskforce, looking at the moaning teachers workload.

        Make real change scrap outdated GCSE and SATS. Let children grow and learn. Options can be anything if GCSEs are gone. Let kids leave with a coffee table they built and cook book filled with recipes they can cook the skills for reading, writing and maths.
        Most importantly kids need to leave feeling like they did something good growing up. Current system makes 50% of them feel like they are failures…or is this the plan of this current system designed by a few for the.many.

        Make real change. To teachers by letting them inspire kids in learning. Not pass exams and be slagged of.

        Change in the ballot box.

  1. TimePoorTeacher

    I want to decorate, organise and assemble my own class space, I don’t mind logging my students’ data or communicating with parents. I do mind about CLASS SIZES BEING TOO LARGE, NOT HAVING ENOUGH TIME FOR LUNCH AND NOT HAVING ENOUGH TIME EACH DAY TO PLAN, PREP, MARK AND MEET THE NEEDS OF MY PUPILS. SMALLER CLASS SIZES, MORE H9GHLY QUALIFIED TEACHERS, MORE FREES, LESS PARENTAL ABUSE.

  2. The not to do list is too shallow and narrowly thought: all comments below need to be taken onboard. The fundamental problem is a system that’s focused on learning stuff that’s repeated in different forms in many different subjects areas, ruled by an oscified National Curriculum that’s no substitute for education. Let teachers teach and work together to decide what they teach. The current education system has failed because it’s based on a bulk factory production model. For a start the batches (classes) are too large!

  3. Debbie Butcher

    I would never have allowed anyone else to organise and ‘decorate MY classroom’ when I had one. I believe that is absolutely the job of a teacher. Fully agree with the other things on the list though.

  4. Rebecca Ross

    What a misleading list! Distracts from what teaching staff really need: smaller class sizes, increased budgets and more PPA in teaching teams. In a large school, teachers do very few of these task. I’d hope that teachers would however want a positive physical environment in which to teach and for their children to learn – it is not decoration! I really can’t see teachers believing that this 20+ list is the answer to workload and challenge in schools.

  5. Teacher

    I believe that the government should have Trainee positions for young adults who are thinking of going into the profession. These in addition to teaching assistants. The trainees can do the displays, listen to pupils read, mark tests such as maths etc. It would give them a chance to experience the life if a teacher before they commit to training. But not to be used as supply or whole class teaching without a teacher present. So many ECT’S leave because they are overwhelmed by what has to be done. It would be a win win for everyone.

  6. These were the measures the government brought in 2003 for the same reasons! They then gradually cut budgets so schools couldn’t continue to pay support staff to carry out these roles and increased the work done by teachers until 20 years later they pretend they’re doing teachers a favour?

  7. The key issue is creating enough space for teachers to discharge professional obligations without burnout. The best heads and schools already do this. The problem is over a decade of underfunding, little respect for ALL STAFF in the business of education, an unhelpful and outdated monitoring system which offers no school improvement component (ofsted) and a curriculum which still remains mired in the 1950s, a mixed confused economy of schools.(I.e. L.A. AND M.A.T.S), idiotic ring fenced funding. In addition schools are also expected to be social care and medical substitutes. Genuine whole system radical and innovative review needed. These proposals move the issues around the system and do not deal with root causes. A very poor effort. Grade F.
    Must do better!!!!!!

  8. This assumes that teachers are merely technicians: turn up, deliver a few lessons, go home. Not so!
    I suggest that all teachers will want to be involved in setting up their own working environment (I.e.classroom) and planning/organising school trips – especially if they are the lead teacher, responsible for the children’s safety, as well as the successful outcome.
    Also, how can admin staff order supplies if teachers don’t tell them what they want / need?
    As for taking photographs, who doesn’t like a photo of a fun activity they’ve enjoyed? School leavers assemblies would be quite dull without a photographic trip down Memory Lane, and for children in reception, photographs may be the only way to record any of their play-based learning.
    The jobs on this list won’t just go away if teachers don’t do them. Teachers teach because they care – and they want to provide a fabulous education for our children – but it’s hard work and they are very underpaid for the work they do. A bit of investment in our schools – and our children’s futures – would go a long way.

  9. It’s my understanding that many schools cannot afford to employ assistants for the full day and not every class has one. The funding for SEN and PP mainly pays for the assistant. Due to financial constraints the assistants are employed only during learning time as support for funded SEN pupils or to support challenging behaviour, (which safeguards that child or others). if lucky enough to be employed for the entire school day, paid time often ends exactly at school dismissal time so it’s always necessary to put in some unpaid time. Assistants are paid quite a low hourly rate not a salary, not paid for their break and also spend a chunk of the day as breaktime supervisors. Unlike teachers there is no available promotion, career progression or overtime. So when does the DfE propose that staff who are not teachers complete the admin, non-teaching tasks? If the assistant spends lengthy amounts of “class” time on admin tasks involving standing at the photocopier or display boards then pupils will be left with inadequate support or be unsafe. Whoever wrote the DfE paper doesn’t seem to be familiar with how schools in the state sector struggle to keep costs down by keeping staffing to the minimum necessary to support the learning needs, safety and wellbeing of pupils.