Wales’s largest education union has called on the Welsh Government to ensure that the workforce survey, which is one of the Minister’s four key priorities for the Managing Workload and Reducing Bureaucracy Group, must focus primarily upon workload so that the causes of excessive workload in schools for all staff can be properly identified. The National Education Union Cymru also feels that there can be no real progress in reducing teacher workload until the high level of teacher accountability is dropped.
David Evans, Wales Secretary of the National Education Union Cymru, said:
“Education professionals tell us that workload is a huge factor in terms of them being able to plan and prepare high quality lessons that help their pupils to make progress. We need to move away from a box ticking culture and it’s clear that workload could even increase with the new Curriculum.
“Welsh Government have taken some steps on workload, but our members have told us today that the Minister needs to survey the workforce and find out the root causes of excessive workload in the system. We will work with the Welsh Government’s Managing Workload and Reducing Bureaucracy Group and the Education Workforce Council to resolve any serious issues found in the workload survey.”
The text of the motions to conference on this issue was as follows:
Motion 23. Workload
Conference Cymru notes the oral statement of Education Minister Kirsty Williams made on 11 June 2019 setting out the Welsh Government approach to ‘Managing Workload and Reducing Bureaucracy’ and welcomes the proposed implementation of the 4 areas of priority and commitment to developing future medium- and long-term plans for dealing with this issue.
This, however, is just the start.
The Minister has mentioned a further survey of the workforce. Conference Cymru believes that such a measure must focus primarily upon workload on this occasion, identifying in particular:
- Causes of excessive workload in schools for all staff.
- Unnecessary and burdensome bureaucratic systems including requests for data that are outdated.
- Unreasonable requests and expectations from local authorities, consortia and Estyn.
- The effect of new initiatives promulgated and promoted by the Welsh Government.
- The effect of underfunding, lack of resources and understaffing.
Conference Cymru therefore instructs the Executive through the Wales Committee to impress upon the Education Minister the importance of these areas and ensure that the correct questions are asked of staff during the forthcoming survey.
Motion 24. Workload
Conference Cymru welcomes the statement made by Kirsty Williams at a lecture in recent months that she knows she needs to do more about teacher workload than “just produce a poster”.
However, Conference Cymru is dismayed at Kirsty Williams’ recent announcement that Estyn will visit schools at least twice within a seven-year cycle after the introduction of the new curriculum to ensure standards are met.
Conference Cymru believes that:
- The most effective way of helping pupils progress is to allow teachers the time to use their experience and their training to plan, prepare and mark high quality lessons and assessments that help their pupils to make progress.
- There can be no real progress in reducing teacher workload until the high level of teacher accountability is dropped.
Conference Cymru therefore instructs the Executive through the Wales Committee to:
i. Work with Welsh Government and the Education Workforce Council (EWC) to resolve serious issues found in the workload survey.
ii. Produce guidance on a workload campaign that considers the progress made by both the ATL and NUT sections over the past few years.
iii. Draft a National workload charter for Wales with the Wales Council, like that produced by Nottinghamshire NUT, aimed at reducing workload.
iv. Campaign to ensure that whilst the new curriculum is being rolled out, the vision of Welsh Government “to further empower schools and teachers by moving away from a narrow, inflexible and crowded curriculum”, is delivered whilst ensuring that it does not increase teacher workload.
i.To evaluate and distribute the latest research on high intensity but low impact working practices such as marking.
i. Insert a new third paragraph:
“Conference Cymru also notes the huge number of emails received by all school staff; headteachers, teachers, support and administrative staff. This results in a significant amount of unnecessary time reading, replying and forwarding information with an overwhelming top-down pressure on all with no real purpose or benefit to staff or pupils.”
ii. In addition, Conference Cymru therefore instructs the Executive through the Wales Committee to:
vi. Seek clarity from the Welsh Government, Consortia and Local Authorities on what is statutory and what is merely a request for information or action by schools.
vii. Campaign for the WG, Consortia and LAs to workload impact assess (on a cumulative basis) all initiatives to determine and limit the load on schools and staff.
- David Evans, National Education Union, Tŷ Sinnott, 18 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff CF24 5PJ. Tel: 029 20491818. Mob: 07815 071164. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mary van den Heuvel, National Education Union, Tŷ Sinnott, 18 Neptune Court, Vanguard Way, Cardiff CF24 5PJ. Tel: 029 20491818. Email: Mary.VandenHeuvel@neu.org.uk