The threat of strike action over teacher workload a step further this morning, despite the education secretary publicly pledging to reduce unnecessary tasks.
At the National Union of Teachers’ (NUT) annual conference in Brighton this morning, members voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion that would seek to organise a “national demonstration around the crisis in education as soon as practical” and “build a campaign to persuade members that national strike action will be necessary”.
It comes after NUT surveys this month found that three quarters of teachers said their workload had increased since the government’s workload challenge in 2014, alongside other concerns about teacher shortages and squeezed funding.
Laura Fisher, of the Wakefield and District NUT chapter which moved the motion, spoke about her workload struggles and said: “My duty is not to [Education Secretary] Nicky Morgan, it’s not to my head teacher, it’s to the children I teach.
“I want to do my duty, but I don’t have the time,” she said.
Speaking after the motion was passed, Christine Blower, NUT general secretary said government policies had created “the perfect storm” for teacher recruitment and retention, and the government was making teaching “a very difficult job”.
“Teachers need to be trusted. They need to have time to have a life outside of work and they need to see an end to the continual blaming and hectoring they get from ministers,” she said.
The workload motion was passed just an hour after the Department for Education (DfE) published its reports into reducing teacher workload in data management, marking and planning.
Recommendations in the report included encouraging teachers to ask why they are recording data and to stop doing so if the burden collection outweighs use, and have been accepted “in full” by the government.
In a press release, the NUT said it welcomed the working group reports, and that they included some “powerful recommendations”, but called for further commitments. This included giving sufficient time for planning in school, supported by a “refreshed DfE protocol”.
“Teachers will want the DfE’s acceptance of these reports to be followed by concrete and effective action,” Ms Blower said.
“The NUT will expect the DfE to conduct a workload impact assessment of initiatives such as baseline and primary assessment, Ebacc and Progress 8, and will expect Ofsted to review the impact of last year’s ‘clarifications’ on workload demands on teachers. Without such action, these reports will have no impact,” she said.
A statement from the Department for Education said “major work” will now be undertaken to “move forward” on plans for reducing unnecessary tasks.