New agreement could slash teacher workload

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09 December 2016 by Ralph Surman
If we don’t do something about teacher workload, we’re not going to have enough good teachers and teaching assistants in Nottingham City.
Workload charter

Excessive workload is identified as the single biggest driving force in preventing recruitment and retention of staff in our schools.

This is not just a problem in Nottingham, but a national issue. Many staff are leaving the profession across the country – blaming long hours and increasing workloads. In Nottingham City, recruiting and retaining quality teachers, and teaching assistants is seen as vital in order to drive up standards in education. It has been identified as a key priority for the Education Improvement Board (EIB), which is made up of experts from schools, academies, universities, colleges and Nottingham City Council.

Most responses to the EIB’s own consultation on its strategic plan asked the board to act to reduce teacher workload. There can be no doubt that current school staff recruitment and retention problems here in Nottingham and nationally are mainly caused by excessive workloads. We have to change that if the City of Nottingham is to remain an attractive location for teachers to work.

In response to this Nottingham has developed a new Fair Workload Charter. The charter has been created with representatives of teacher unions, and a representative of the EIB. I have been ATL’s representative on the working group throughout the process.

The charter is a bold attempt to tackle the serious difficulties many of our schools face in recruiting and retaining teachers and teaching assistants by promoting ways in which excessive workloads can be reduced. It incorporates some of the recommendations of the three DfE working parties.

The charter proposes a local solution to a national problem.

One of the main worries I hear from heads about reducing workload is 'what will Ofsted say?'. Sean Harford HMI, Ofsted's national director, education Ofsted has confirmed that the measures contained in the Charter can be consistent with a good and better quality of teaching.

The difficulty many schools face in recruiting good staff to our schools mirrors the national picture or if anything, is a bit worse. I frequently hear from city heads that they have received few or no responses to adverts for key posts. Yet recruiting and retaining good staff is critical to efforts to continue to improve provision and outcomes in Nottingham City.

We have to face facts: teaching as it is now being no longer an attractive career choice. Unless we change what it is like to be a teacher, we will continue to struggle to recruit, and city children will lose out.

How will it work?

Schools that decide to adopt the charter will receive the EIB fair workload logo to use on their adverts and publicity. Potential applicants will be reassured about the workload they might experience in choosing your school over one elsewhere that has not adopted the charter.

The charter expects schools to assess the likely workload impact of their policies on their staff and to share this assessment each year.

What does the charter offer?

Staff working in an EIB ‘Fair Workload Charter’ school can expect a fair and reasonable workload along with high quality training and professional development opportunities that meet the needs of individual members of staff

The success of the Fair Workload Charter will be based on uptake, implementation and the ability to recruit and retain quality staff. ATL in Nottingham City would urge that head teachers – and their school governing bodies – will sign up to the Fair Workload Charter to make sure our teachers can focus on providing the best possible education for children and young people in our city.

ATL would like to hear your opinion on the Fair Workload Charter – is this something you would like your school to adopt? Do you think it could help with your work-life balance? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.

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Workload and hours