Exam pressures to blame for workload, say teachers

Pressure to boost pupil test scores and exam grades is to blame for the workload woes of three in four teachers, according to a National Education Union survey.

Of the 8,173 teachers asked by the NEU about what causes excessive work, 74 per cent said pressure to improve pupil test scores and exam results is a main factor, while 52 per cent blame changes to the curriculum and testing.

Many teachers also blame school inspections; 46 per cent say Ofsted, mock inspections and other visits pile the work on, while 41 per cent point to a lack of money and resources in their school.

Other reasons given include falling numbers of support staff (33 per cent), demands from school leaders or governments (33 per cent) and increasing class sizes (27 per cent).

The survey also calls into question the success of the government’s workload challenge. Eighty-seven per cent of respondents say the initiative has not cut their workload at all.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said it was “a damning indictment but no surprise” that “so many teachers believe that the government and Ofsted are the biggest drivers of their workload”.

“The NEU has campaigned tirelessly for change, putting pressure on the government to reduce workload​,” she added. “As a result of the NEU’s workload campaign, the government and Ofsted recently produced a video about some of the activity around marking, data collection and lesson planning that Ofsted don’t want to see, and that heads should not ask for.

“However, schools need to know what the government and Ofsted expects of them, not just what they don’t expect, and the government needs to define just what it is that teachers should be doing.”