Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Want to Reduce Workload? Then Reduce Work. Sorted

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Want to Reduce Workload? Then Reduce Work. Sorted

Article excerpt

From carts for lugging piles of marking to gadgets for data collection, this area is rife with false economies, but the real solution is simple

When headlines about workload appeared last week, many people will have been delighted. It seemed that local organisations had finally decided that workload was an issue and something needed to be done. As it is so often, however, it can be tempting to do anything simply to ensure that something is being done.

In this case, it was a proposal for a workload charter - at first glance, a seemingly sensible list of goals to reduce workload. It outlines the need to ensure that a teacher's workload outside lessons can be completed in two hours a day and that high-quality schemes of work should be provided.

The wise among you will already have spotted the snag here: who writes the schemes of work? There is a risk here of a repetition of the problem where teachers end up spending most of their PPA time planning for the lessons being taught in that time. Good intentions don't always work out as planned.

In this case, the scheme aimed at reducing workload revolves around the charter, for which there will apparently be external accreditation. I can't help but think that school leaders who are genuinely keen on reducing workload might spot the additional workload in providing evidence for such accreditation and decide to focus their energies elsewhere. Those heads keen to add another badge to the letterhead may manage to find evidence to meet the letter of the scheme while missing the spirit entirely.

It seems to be another case of workload reduction being open to fad rather than a real downward pressure on the work expected to be done. And we've seen it all before:

Verbal feedback stamps

Another idea that seems great at first glance: instead of copious comments, you just stamp the book. In some cases, it can work. …

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