Tag Archives: Workload

Blog of the Week: 4 May 2018 – Teachers’ time is our most precious resource

I’m lucky to work in a school that invests in freeing up teacher time for the important things. We have centralised detentions, whole class feedback and we are building centralised schemes of work around our own textbooks for reading and Shed Loads Of Practice. Teacher time is too precious to be spent chasing detentions, writing comments in exercise books, or doubling up on planning.

Teacher time is our most precious resource and we must use it wisely. Leaders are responsible for making this happen but there are things we can do as individuals too, things that make a big difference even when your leaders and systems are great.

There are five principles I use in order to protect my time and get the best from it:

  • Hornets and butterflies – such an important concept from Joe Kirby here
  • The Pareto principle – the 80:20 rule
  • Economies of time
  • Environment management
  • Attention…

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ASCL Conference March 2018

ASCL Logo ASCL Annual Conference

Geoff Barton, ASCL General SecretaryGeoff Barton

  • ASCL vision: Every child from every background deserves the best possible education.
  • Our common focus must be on the education of young people and the well-being of students, staff and school leaders. Be restless, be relentless.
  • Key priorities/areas of concern:
    – recruitment and retention;
    – workload (a common theme of the day);
    – accountability (another common theme);
    – ethical leadership (doing the ‘right thing’);
    – mental health and well-being;
    – funding.
  • Priorities are linked, funding is the key to unlock the others; ASCL will continue to campaign on this front.
  • Ethical leadership focus, including celebrating and encouraging diversity within the curriculum which is at odds with the Ebacc agenda and accountability measures (another common theme).
  • How do we prepare our students for life in the modern world rather than winning Progress 8 prizes and stickers.
  • Measure what we value, rather than valuing what is measured.
  • The rhetoric surrounding social mobility needs to be a reality.
  • Referred to Obama’s reliance on reading for pleasure to get him through the Team of RivalsPresidency. ‘Team of Rivals’ (Lincoln’s presidency) recommended.
  • Impact of social media on mental health; message was to educate, supervise, guide but not ban. Students need a perspective on their own sense of self and how to achieve screen-free time.
  • Questioned the current GCSE Levels – what does it feel like to achieve a Level 3, no longer any sort of a pass?
  • Summary: We are community leaders, be strong, be ethical. ASCL will continue to urge the government to re-think accountability measures, relieve pressures on educators and shift the focus to what really matters.

 Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP, Sec of State for EducationDamian Hinds

  • Teaching is the noblest of roles and has a massive impact on society.
  • All children deserve a good education; recent government policy has had impact (more good schools, more rigorous GCSEs/A Levels, Ebacc, etc.)
  • Wants to return power to Headteachers to make the right decisions for their schools.
  • Stressed the importance of people and quality teaching.
  • Disadvantaged agenda also stressed.
  • Workload given considerable airtime: remove low impact/high effort tasks which include excessive marking; verbal feedback is also effective. Data collection/analysis also highlighted; DfE currently deciding its position on data collection; summer announcement.
  • Acknowledged pace of change has been fast but reminded us of the positive impact. Promised no further change in the parliament; did not mention overhaul vocational and technical qualifications.
  • Accountability regime: acknowledged high stakes nature and subsequent pressure on staff and students. Whilst accountability is necessary, it must be right. Plan to clarify the rules and roles of RSCs vs Ofsted (this was mentioned several times).
  • CPD – spoke of a curriculum fund to support the sharing of best practice.
  • Concluded by stating his commitment to changing the culture in education, reduce the workload and support the profession so as to provide a world class education for all children.


Amanda Spielman, HMCIAmanda Spielman

  • Committed to shifting the focus on inspection to the ‘substance of education’.
  • An advocate of a knowledge-rich curriculum, not progress prizes and stickers.
  • Feels that the curriculum has been overlooked in favour of accountability measures; acknowledged that Ofsted is partly responsible for this.
  • Success should flow from a broad curriculum which is well taught.
  • Also cited workload as a key priority in retaining effective staff and that triple-impact marking, excessive data analysis and ‘mocksteds’ had adversely impacted on this.
  • Cited 5 drivers of the workload issue:
    – government policy;
    – accountability measures;
    – the consequences of accountability measures, including the response by RSCs;
    – litigation (e.g. H&S);
    – school policies driven by accountability measures.
  • Stressed the need to communicate Sean Harford’s ‘myths’ to staff (e.g. not a performance, no requirement for excessive preparation, no mocksteds, no lesson plans, no expected style of teaching or frequency of marking).
  • Ofsted want to see day-to-day practice. If the school is working well, week-in, week-out, then you have at least a good school.
  • Cited short inspection reforms as evidence of Ofsted’s desire to reduce the fear around inspections (stay good with areas of weakness, removal of ‘3 RI strikes = Grade 4’ rule).
  • No expectation for additional or highly detailed data to be produced for the inspection; questioned the effort that routinely goes into data production and analysis. Ofsted will use data as a starting point only.
  • Staff questionnaires now ask if leaders take account of about well-being and workload when making decisions.
  • 2019 Inspection Framework coming soon; expect a sharper focus on education rather than aspects which do not give a fair indication of the school.

Martin Paine


Blog of the Week: 16 March 2018 – Marking Crib Sheet

Recently, I have been looking at our departments marking procedures and how best to be effective markers (obviously reducing workload is key!).

I designed this crib sheet as a way to provide quicker feedback to the whole classroom rather than writing comments in each book, so reducing marking time from 2-3 hours per class to less than an hour. Now I actually really do miss writing comments, leaving questions and the other bits in their books but it really wasn’t a workload issue I could continue with (especially as I have my first child on the way!).

Therefore the crib sheet allows me to go through each students’ book and I make comments on the whole class sheet using the sections below.


The benefits are that it gives me a snapshot of the whole class’s progress, allows me to…

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Blog of the Week: 2 February 2018 – Hornets and Butterflies: How to reduce workload

Joe Kirby

Butterfly      Hornet

When teachers were asked about workload, 44,000 responded. Teachers work 50-to-60 hour weeks, often starting at 7am, often leaving after 6pm, and often working weekends. Some 90% of teachers have considered giving up teaching because of excessive workload, and 40% leave the profession within 5 years. There are teachers out there working 90 hour weeks.

For a school, there are great benefits to leading the way on reducing workload. Teachers who aren’t exhausted teach better. We contribute more over a longer time period. We are far happier to invest time in building trusting, caring, affirming relationships with children. We stay calmer in difficult confrontations, and are less likely to be short-tempered in everyday interactions. We support and encourage each other better. New teachers improve faster, veteran teachers stay longer, and everyone works smarter. A school that pioneers healthy work-life balance is more likely to attract teachers to…

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Blog of the Week: 12 January 2018 – The ‘Intervention’ beast


A recent @sputniksteve thread on Twitter asked teachers to contribute their most hated edu terms. Mine was ‘intervention’ and I was not alone. When I first encountered the term I didn’t really understand what it meant. I’d always used ‘revision’. (I’ve come to realise that the model of ‘revision sessions’ is also not as effective as retention practices in the every day classroom). I thought ‘intervention is a synonym for ‘revision’. It’s not really though – it actually means ‘more teaching’.

I don’t remember running much of ‘it’ at all in my first few years – maybe the odd day in the Easter holidays just before exam season. Later, we devised the ‘Revision weekend’ focusing exclusively on the core and particular attainment groups (some of this was also determined by FSM status). I was happy to do it. In fact, I liked doing it. The kids were ‘on it’ and…

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