3 ways to reduce teacher workload

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

by Richard Skipper

Teacher workload is one of those issues in education that refuses to go away.

At the heat death of the universe, I would not be surprised if the Department for Education decides to set up another working group.

However, workload is at least on the agenda. Ofsted has recently announced that it will now be asking staff about how their school leaders take workload into account in regards to school policies and procedures, and how they avoid placing ‘unnecessary burdens’ on their staff.

But how can school leaders avoid the horrors of the ‘unnecessary burden’?

Luckily, The Key loves a chat and we’ve talked to plenty of schools in the past that have found practical ways to reduce teacher workload.

Here’s just some snippets from the great case studies we’ve got from school leaders, which are all available in more detail on The Key for School Leaders.

No more written marking

Staff at St Matthias CofE Primary School have recently revolutionised their approach to marking.

Under their new approach, teachers mark writing by scanning the work in pupils’ books, make notes of what has often been commonly misunderstood, and correct these misconceptions with the whole class the next day.

Then there is time for pupils to look over their own work in lessons and correct their mistakes.

Regarding maths marking, pupils are taught to self-check in lessons as they go along. This means the teacher is not taking their books home, and they don’t have to wait for the next lesson to see if they have understood a concept.

The school’s headteacher has said this has resulted in one teacher having their marking workload reduced from two and a half hours per evening to a mere half hour.

You can find more details in our dedicated case study article (£).

Rethinking lesson plans

Three Bridges Primary School has looked at ways of reducing the workload of writing lesson plans.

The school has no specific lesson plan proformas, and lesson plans are not routinely checked for performance management purposes.

Instead, teachers use the school’s information management system to complete ‘long-range’ planning, with curriculum targets for each term and the instructional strategies they’ll be using.

The school also organises their planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time into blocks of at least two and a half hours.

Teachers can then use this time to work with others in their subject or year group to plan lessons together collaboratively and share resources.

If you want more case studies from schools on spending less time creating lesson plans, our article on the matter (£) is a must read.

Focus on feedback

Huntington School refers to ‘feedback’ over ‘marking’, as it encompasses a wider range of methods for communicating with pupils.

These include:

  • Self-assessment
  • Peer assessment
  • Verbal feedback
  • Written comments

Teachers can then use the feedback method that would be most effective for the context of their classes.

To keep this standardised, the school’s feedback policy sets out, by subject, the specific feedback approaches that should be taken for each Key Stage.

This reduces workload and, crucially, makes sure that the work that is being done is worthwhile.

There are even more solid-gold ideas on reducing marking workload in our dedicated article (£).

Missing something?

If you think your school has some even better ideas that we haven’t talked to you about, please do get in touch our contact page or our Twitter account.

We’re always eager to talk to schools trying new approaches to this problem.

Comments 1

  1. Ian Armitage 14th October 2017

    Less is more .In other professions and trades cutting unnecessary workload is the quickest way to improve morale and performance. However it often takes a mini-crisis or a change in leadership to give people the impetus to do less to achieve more. I always look at activities which do not add value to the core purpose and outsource them , freeing up time to concentrate on what really matters.
    Welcome tips which I hope act as catalysts for others to float ideas /contribute.

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