NEU ascribe to the causes of workload to accountability system, and to its policing and the behaviours, practices, unintended consequences and effects which derive from it.

The root causes, we see, as:

  • Centrally driven, targets, set from political level downwards;
  • Too many examinations/tests, notably at years 7 and 12;
  • Narrow systemic curriculum focus to address international performance targets (PISA, TIMMS, PIRLS etc);
  • Narrow metrics to determine ‘achievement’ notably to the detriment of vocational education, non-academic skills routes and different routes of equal value;
  • A culture of performance managerialism, to achieve results at all costs;
  • The overwrought application of new technology, notably big data, diagnostic testing (to the detriment of teachers’ professional judgement), and as a managerial and tracking tool.

Regional Secretary, Mark Langhammer said:

“We know that high performing education systems are characterised by high trust, high discretion work environments as well as high autonomy, self-directed accountability systems. Target driven managerialism can drive low performance systems from poor to average, but Northern Ireland is not a poor system. It’s time for change.”

Northern Ireland
Measuring What Matters

Northern Ireland is not a poor system. It is average or better by international comparison. Segments of the system could be described as globally leading.