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What do you think of the DfE’s efforts to cut teachers’ workload?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    ‘A total of 87 per cent of teachers say that the government’s Workload Challenge has not cut their workload "at all", according to a survey.

    In the survey of 8,000 teachers in England, 60 per cent said that there had, in fact, been “a notable increase” in workload since the Workload Challenge was introduced by education secretary Nicky Morgan in 2014, despite its aims to reduce marking, planning and data management.

    The findings of the survey, revealed today in Liverpool at the NEU conference (ATL section), come after current education secretary Damian Hinds said last month that he would be “stripping away” pointless tasks to allow teachers to “focus on what actually matters”.

    The survey, carried out by the NEU, shows that government and Ofsted are now the biggest drivers of teacher workload.’

    Has your workload increased or decreased since the Workload Challenge was introduced? Do you agree with the NEU that the government and Ofsted are now the biggest drivers to teacher workload? What practices should be stopped or changed to reduce your workload?

  2. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    Nope. It is poor decision making made by local management that creates pointless work for teachers.

    Ofsted have repeatedly made it clear that they do not expect to see any lesson planning, any particular type of approach to marking or any complicated methods of assessment or tracking. Neither do they expect schools to be grading lessons...

    If the SLT of a school don't understand plain English, then you have a problem...

    Some teachers may mistakenly believe it is Ofsted who are the cause of their workload, because weak leaders, who don't have the confidence or conviction to explain or justify their own policies, tell them it is thus.
    ATfan, Janettap, JohnJCazorla and 2 others like this.
  3. nervousned

    nervousned Senior commenter

    Alas we lost a lot of good, strong SLT in the first half of the decade when they were fired for not creating pointless workload for their teachers when Ofsted did require it. Now many schools are filled with SLT who were deemed a success for enforcing these stupid policies and are ignoring any movement away from doing so.
    eljefeb90, Janettap, mrajlong and 5 others like this.
  4. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    I think the DfE is useless, I thought it before 2014, I think it now and I think it'll still be useless for the foreseeable future.

    Also, as Academies have a larger degree of autonomy and freedom, I'm not convinced there's much the DfE can actually do.
  5. Grandsire

    Grandsire Senior commenter

    What efforts? I can’t say I’ve noticed any positive change in my working conditions as a result of anything the DfE has done, let alone a reduction in workload. They are simply too far removed from the academy management system I have to work under. The status of the photocopier and the phases of the moon have more impact on my job than the DfE does.

    Tell me ONE thing the DfE has brought in that has reduced my workload, and I can tell you ten new pointless tasks insisted upon by my SLT that I didn’t have to do five years ago. Here are two to get you started:

    1. Generate FFT data and attach it to everything I do, so that I can prove I know the expected end-of-key stage outcomes for each child in my class. It’s not enough for me to have high expectations for all my pupils - I have to prove I have generated a numerical prediction (because then I can be measured against it).

    2. Submit about twenty pages of electronic planning for every single trip we go on, six weeks in advance, no matter how near the location or how few children I take, attaching endless documents electronically to record each step in the process. Result: we don’t do half the trips we could, and it’s the children who lose out.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
  6. maggie m

    maggie m Established commenter

    A close friend is being told she must have up to date seating plans for all for her classes which include data on pupil premium, EAL, SEN, target grade and result in last assessment. She tells me the Head says this is what ofsted want and that he is a former ofsted inspector so he knows best.
    Waste of time, I have seating plans in September but once I know my classes I don't bother to update them. I know have moved Tom to sit on his own because he annoys everyone in the class and I know Shahida is good verbally but has poor written English so needs to be with a good pupil and close to the TA who supports Carey. (Names made up)
    JohnJCazorla and Jamvic like this.
  7. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Occasional commenter

    I feel that until we remove this culture of severe accountability, teacher’s workload will never decrease.

    Prove your students are doing well... and if they’re not, collect evidence to show you have done everything you can to support them.
  8. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Som of my peers have suggested we look at the governor and MAT level effect.

    Ask to review the data presented to governors or at executive level in a MAT.

    E.g. Pretty chart showing 'progress'.

    Then trace it back. Evaluate just how much work the pupils had to do to learn the content needed for these data drops (lack of relevance of test, content as well as loss of teacher agency), amount of work teachers put in to coordinate, mark and input data sets, amount of work for school SLT to take the data and do meaningful analysis to work it up to a pretty chart.

    All for someone to say, oh yes, we have some evidence we are making progress. You could slash this enormous data drop layer of bureaucracy from the school without any loss to learning, instead, the time could be spent on non workload intensive teaching.

    It originally emerged from the ofsted insistence that a school 'demonstrate' evidence that pupils were and are making progress. To 'demonstrate', you need a proxy for learning -hence data drops and charts.
  9. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    Absolute nonsense.
    strawbs likes this.
  10. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    This is the battle that teachers face, it takes everybody, including heads a long time to change their ideas of what makes good professional practice,
    nicky74606 likes this.
  11. moscowbore

    moscowbore Senior commenter

    This was also the norm at my last school. We did not create lesson plans, we created 20 page lesson "packs". All because "OFSTED expect it".

    The whole system is designed to make the teacher accountable for everything. The whole "progress flightpath" nonsense generates a massive workload for the teacher.
    The "Director of Student Progress" in my last school lasted a year. He was a massive proponent of the "flightpath" bolleaux. Carp results at the end of the year were probably blamed on him not keeping enough spreadsheets and not bullying staff into more coursework cheating.

    Academies do not need to do anything suggested by the DFE. They do not even need to employ qualified teachers. So why would workload decrease?
    JohnJCazorla and fredhaise like this.
  12. applecrumblebumble

    applecrumblebumble Lead commenter

    DFE have totally lost touch and have no idea how to change workload.
    It all started with the idea of competitions between schools and league tables, education is a public service not a business. Ofsted offer good advice of things not required for inspection maybe they should grade senior management on this advice.
  13. install

    install Star commenter

    Sadly it seems these speeches are a form of lip service. Without Overtime pay or better employment rights in some places, there will most likely continue to be issues with workload, pay and health.

    It seems to be for some to be just the same old fake news being recycled.
    Jamvic likes this.
  14. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    I fundamentally disagree.

    The excessive work (increase in workload) is down to Ofsted and Spielman had admitted as much.

    Given that they got us into this mess, it’s their job to get us out of it, in as far as that’s possible.

    Saying “Ofsted do not require...” is simply not enough, as SLTs will (perhaps undetstandably) continue to goldplate good practice.

    You know it. I know it. Ofsted know it. But Ofsted do nothing about it, with Spirlman saying recently that she doesn’t want to judge Leadership and Management on excessive workload.

    That’s admitting Ofdted were wrong to get us to where we are, but refusing to do anything about it when it’s within their power to do so.
  15. moscowbore

    moscowbore Senior commenter

    I agree with PQ. SLT will continue to do the same things which got them OUTSTANDING until OFSTED actually downgrade them for pointless mark schemes.

    I am baffled by Spielman's reluctance to judge SLT on workload. Teacher workload is a major factor to be considered when judging how well a school is run. OFSTED have nothing to lose by pointing out that triple marking is unnecessary. Workload is also the main reason for the recruitment and retention crisis.
  16. Jolly_Roger12

    Jolly_Roger12 Occasional commenter

    My last school was like this. LPs became such elaborate documents, with a life of their own, completely divorced form their intended purpose, if there ever was one. I felt like a monk in a scriptorium, painstakingly writing and illuminating manuscripts, the crucial difference being that I had to produce five of them each day! LPs suffer from accretion: no justification stronger than 'it can't do any harm to include...' gets something added to it, while nothing is ever dropped from it.

    In my experience, education is bedevilled by this extreme reluctance to abandon things that are of no perceivable use. Tragically, for the teacher, managers often draw the wrong conclusion when something is not making any difference. Instead of thinking 'this doesn't make any difference, so we should stop doing it, they think 'the reason this is not making any difference is that we are not doing it enough'.

    SMT 1: "This idea of yours to make teachers include a hand-drawn relief map of Malawi in every lesson plan doesn't seem to be improving student grades. Any thoughts?"

    SMT 2: "In that case, perhaps we should have them include a map of Zimbabwe, too."

    SMT1: "Good idea! We could add in one of Botswana as well, just to make sure. It can't do any harm."
  17. baxterbasics

    baxterbasics Senior commenter

    I also agree that the complete fear of Ofsted is behind all of this.

    Let's take some examples -

    Constructive feedback in books - this was an Ofsted drive. No longer are raw marks allowable - marking has to be what will take student to next level, so sentences required from teacher that can take a lot of time, and are often not even glanced at by pupils, who ironically just want to know how many they got right and how many they got wrong.

    Pupil voice - the concept that pupils need to have a say in their learning process - this also brought in the need for pupils to write replies to teachers' comments, which are again marked by the teacher. The simple truth is that at many of the schools where I have worked, the kids are not mature enough to make constructive comments on their own progress.

    Pupils being constantly aware of what level they are on and what level they are aiming for what they need to get there. This has brought about the drive for stickers on books with levels and next level and also a list of goals or topics to move up a level. Ofsted often catch out kids by saying "what level are you, and what level are you aiming for?". The fear of kids not knowing has brought about this sticker initiative.

    This constant drive for leveling also brought about a drive for more testing, half termly or more - hence much more marking.

    Differentiation - the need for evidence of many different levels of work has brought about a need for teachers to produce multiple versions of worksheets and tasks. A little extra help on the same task was just fine when I was at school.

    The constant blame by Ofsted for bad behaviour as being a result of unimaginative or unengaging lessons has led to teachers having to think of all sorts of different approaches (chalk and talk text books only would by implication be seen as bad practice) which has led to a much greater demand for planning. Don't you dare leave behind a kinesthetic or A-V learner! Funny, isn't it, how I got a decent education, few kids were wild or disruptive, and the teachers' approach was by and large old fashioned and non-all-bells-and-whistles. Even more so for my parents' generation.

    So as we can see, Ofsted are behind it all. And if you don't think they are, read any recent report for a RI or Inadequate school - I can almost guarantee that behaviour will be blamed on poor planning and poor levels of engagement. It is this constant threat (that can lead to job losses and destroyed careers) that has led to an almost paranoid obsession of covering our own backs,
  18. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Despite what Ofsted say now, and even accepting they have changed in many of the ways that they were asked to change by teachers, they are still the "cause" of the problem. It seems that old habits die hard and way too many schools appear to believe that they still need to do all those daft things to ensure that inspections turn out ok.

    They still do not objectively assess schools. Two schools could use the same generally agreed to be good policy and if one has good results and the other not so good, the not so good school will suffer despite the obvious contradiction of the policies being similar. So schools appear to adopt a belt and braces technique doing as much as they can to circumvent criticism. If all schools adopted similarly agreed policies, results would still vary massively and as a result schools would still be criticised so it's obviously not that simple as saying "don't do all these things" as people just don't believe it. If you have evidence of good planning, they can't really blame the planning etc. If you mark copiously, they can't blame the marking. If your obs all say your teachers are good, they can't really blame the teachers etc. If they don't grade, don't want to see marking or planning etc, it's difficult to know what they do assess/criticise in terms of teaching... so presumably a lot correlates to outcomes. Which as we all know heavily correlate to lots of other things than teaching... All a bit confusing.

    Ofsted will still only look at workload-generating policies if they are reported as such in the workload survey. They are not able to identify a policy with an attached onerous workload for some reason, unless someone says "Hey look at this policy - it generates an onerous workload". They they have a look and presumably either agree or disagree. I say presumably as I have not heard of a single case of school being addressed by an inspector for such a policy.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2018
    JohnJCazorla and Jamvic like this.
  19. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    Not really a like, more a sad nodding of the head.
  20. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Yes, that is happening.

    And well-known MAT chains near me employ Mocksteds for example and stupid extensive written marking policies despite one being friendly with the education minister himself...

    Well, we all know what the outcomes would be... and aint nobody got time for dat.

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