Less than one in five teachers in England have downloaded a toolkit launched by the government to help them tackle unnecessary workload.
The Department for Education launched its workload reduction toolkit for teachers and school leaders last July. At the time, ministers were mocked and criticised for the timing of the release of the document, which was published on a Saturday and the first day of the summer holidays.
Today, the education secretary Damian Hinds told the annual conference of school leaders’ union ASCL that the toolkit has been downloaded “more than 95,000 times” since last summer.
However, according to DfE teacher workforce figures, there were 498,000 teachers in England in 2017, meaning that if each download of the toolkit was made by a different teacher, it has only reached a fifth of the profession. If the same teachers downloaded it multiple times, the actual reach of the document could be much lower.
In a speech which contained no major new policy announcements, Hinds insisted he was trying to tackle workload issues, and pointed to the workload reduction toolkit as an example.
“I am well aware that many of the people in this room put in a working week regularly which is just too long,” he told delegates.
“The pressures that you and your staff face are not good for quality of life, and they’re not good for your families.”
The education secretary also hit back at claims that he’s been avoiding headteachers in an ongoing row over school funding. Earlier this week, he was defended by education minister Anne Milton following claims he refused to meet with campaigning school leaders.
“In the last few weeks I’ve heard that I’m not meeting headteachers. I have to say that came as something of a surprise to me,” he said.
“I’m visiting schools, nurseries and colleges week-in, week-out and I’ve heard from hundreds of headteachers about their ambitions for their students and the challenges they face.”
He said he wanted to reassure heads that he has “heard the message on funding loud and clear”.
“I understand the real concerns on funding. I get that finances are challenging in schools, and that many of you have had to make and are having to make very hard choices. I know that rising costs, from suppliers to supply agencies, add to these pressures alongside the particular pressures in high needs.”
Hinds also said he would be making the “strongest possible case” for education to get more funding in the run-up to the spending review, which will take place before the summer parliamentary recess as long as a Brexit deal is reached.