Education & Family

Teachers asked to suggest ways to reduce workload

Nick Clegg
Image caption Mr Clegg says it is misguided to think that teaching is a career built on short days and long holidays

Teachers in England are being asked to examine how they spend their working day, in an attempt to stop a "runaway train of bureaucracy".

They are being urged to tell the government what administrative tasks should be cut or scrapped altogether.

Launching the workload challenge for teachers, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says teachers must be liberated from "burdensome workloads".

Mr Clegg says teachers should be freed to spend more time in the classroom.

Mr Clegg hits out at the "misguided impression" that teaching is a career built on short days and long holidays.

50-hour week

In a speech to an audience of public sector workers on Wednesday, Mr Clegg will say: "Talk to a teacher and they'll tell you about their working week of 50 hours or more.

"They'll also tell you how much of this time they feel is wasted on unnecessary processes, box-ticking and form-filling.

"We're talking about hours spent struggling to stay on top of piles of incident reports, over-detailed lesson plan templates, health and safety forms, departmental updates, training requests and so on that threaten to engulf them every week.

"Not to mention the reams of additional evidence which teachers pull together because of a long-held belief that Ofsted inspectors want to see everything written down."

Image caption Nicky Morgan pledged to reduce teacher workload at the Conservative conference

Mr Clegg will say that while some of this work is unavoidable, it is time to "stop that runaway train of bureaucracy in its tracks, giving our teachers more time to do what they do best - creating and planning the best possible lessons and experiences for our children".

Teachers are being invited to submit their thoughts on workload via a page on the Times Educational Supplement (TES) website.

Ministers promise to put the best ideas into action early next year.

Welcome news

His announcement was welcomed by the teaching unions.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "We are pleased that government is listening to us. We will need to see real and significant change. It is desperately needed."

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said: "ATL is pleased the coalition government is finally taking teachers' workloads seriously.

"It is a tragedy that for so long teachers and school leaders have felt pressurised into doing tasks which do nothing to improve children's education."

But shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said Mr Clegg could not be trusted as he is "part of the government that has denigrated the professionalism of teachers".

"His attempts to distance himself from his own government's dismal record on teacher workload will be met with great scepticism and the teaching profession will be right to hold him to account for the decisions that he has taken."

Mr Clegg's announcement follows Education Secretary Nicky Morgan's olive branch to the teaching profession last month, when she promised to reduce teacher workload.

Speaking to the Conservative party conference, she said it would be her priority to "reduce the overall burden on teachers".

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