“The workload problem is across the workforce, affecting leaders, teachers and support staff. There is no greater challenge in the teacher recruitment and retention crisis than that of reducing workload and improving the nature of teachers’ work, and the high stakes, low quality accountability system is a huge barrier to achieving this.

“In the National Education Union’s latest survey on workload, released today (1), there are clear messages from our members about both the quantity of work and the quality of their working lives. Appropriate professional autonomy, application of pedagogy, and use of their knowledge, skills and experience has been eroded by excessive national policy reform and an accountability system that drives bureaucratic evidencing of work rather than prioritising that which makes the biggest impact on teaching and learning. The downward pressure from a national level – Government, and agencies such as Ofsted and Ofqual – must be addressed.

“The linked issues of workload and accountability are the main reasons education professionals don't see themselves working in the sector in the near future: some 40% expecting to depart within 5 years, and 18% think they’ll have left in the next 2 years. Without actually using national policy to drive down workload, the DfE's recruitment and retention strategy won't succeed.

“The Secretary of State’s commitment to addressing the workload problem is a good start but to date government action has been fiddling around the edges as opposed to the bold action that is required. Workload won't come down until the accountability regime is reset and rebalanced so that it can provide reliable assurance that children's education is in safe hands without the detrimental effects on both pupils and teachers of teaching to the test and prioritising tasks, paperwork and data analysis for inspectors above those which support learners.

“No education system can exceed the quality of its teachers: government needs to stop deprofessionalising, demoralising and burning teachers out. We are losing highly committed and highly qualified staff and children are losing out on the education they need.”

Editor’s Note:

  1. The State of Education: Workload, 16 April 2019: https://neu.org.uk/press-releases/state-education-workload



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  • The National Education Union stands up for the future of education. It brings together the voices of more than 450,000 teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in maintained and independent schools and colleges across the UK, to form the largest education union in Europe.
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