After surveying 21,000 people and taking a year to mull over the results what did the groups tasked with reducing workload find?

The recommendations themselves cover three different areas – planning, marking, and data – and are mostly very weak. Lots of lines saying ‘should’ and ‘encourage’ but no real commitment.

Also, many of the recommendations are already followed by people in schools. For example, “teachers should consider the use of quality assured resources, such as textbooks or teacher guides” – this is something teachers will regularly be doing anyway.

But, hidden among the text and of each report, is a series of underlying principles that the authors believe can help reduce workload in planning, marking and data handling across all schools, regardless of context.

The theory is that if, when schools implement policies, they used these principles, then workload would decrease.

So, here they are, and our 1-page downloadable guide for sharing at meetings is at the bottom of the page.


The 5 Principles of Planning

1.  Planning a sequence of lessons is more important than writing individual lesson plans

2.  Fully resourced schemes of work should be in place for all teachers to use each term

3.  Planning should not be done simply to please outside organisations

4.  Planning should take place in purposeful and well defined blocks of time

5.  Effective planning makes use of high quality resources


Marking: The 3 Ms

All marking should be…

Meaningful: marking varies by age group, subject, and what works best for the pupil and teacher in relation to a particular piece of work. Teachers should adjust their approach and be trusted to use outcomes in subsequent planning and teaching.

Manageable: marking should be proportionate and takes into account the frequency and complexity of written feedback, as well as the cost and time-effectiveness of marking in relation to the overall workload of teachers. This should be written into any assessment policy.

Motivating: Marking should help to motivate pupils to progress. This does not mean always writing in-depth comments or being universally positive: sometimes short, challenging comments or oral feedback are more effective. If the teacher is doing more work than their pupils, this can become a disincentive for pupils to accept challenges and take responsibility for improving their work.


Data: 3 Big Questions

1.  Am I clear on the purpose? Why is this data being collected, and how will improve provision?

2.  Is this the most efficient process? Have the workload implications been properly considered and is there a less burdensome way to collect, enter, analyse, interpret, and present the information?

3.  Is the data valid? Does the data actually provide a reliable and defensible measure of educational attainment?


Download our one-page guide to the ‘Workload Principles’