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Any actions to tackle excessive workload and working hours will be more effective if taken together, with staff and leaders working collaboratively to make a positive change across the whole workplace. Many National Education Union members have reduced workload in many workplaces using the strategy set out in this section.

The more members who participate, the greater the impact will be. Remember that you can use this approach to tackle just one workload concern or more than one - it is up to you and your colleagues to identify and take forward the issues of main concern.

Talk to your colleagues

The first step is always to share your concerns with your colleagues and start a conversation about them. Ask one of your National Eductaion Union reps to arrange a meeting of members to discuss the issues. If you don’t have a rep, organise a meeting yourself or contact our organising team.

What are the issues?

Find out which issues members are concerned about and care about most - there may be other commonly shared concerns. Use the checklist in our workload toolkit to identify your priorities, adding further issues as needed.

Meet with your colleagues

Don’t just rely on one lunchtime meeting to find out about workload concerns:

  • identify volunteers to talk to other colleagues and collect/collate evidence and views
  • hold informal and creative discussions at other times eg coffee breaks or lunch periods
  • use the workload tracker to collect workload data
  • raise the issue through staff meetings or other communication systems.
  • Issues affecting individual members shouldn’t be regarded as solely matters of casework. Organise around these as well – solutions which are secured for individual members can also be the basis of improved working conditions for other members.

Encourage your colleagues to be part of a campaign

Look in particular for issues which are:

  • widely felt and deeply felt by colleagues
  • winnable or partly winnable
  • easy to understand and non-divisive
  • likely to result in a real improvement in working lives and demonstrate the value of National Education Union membership.

Action Short of Strike Action

Changes to working practices secured through Action Short of Strike Action in the past should be seen as permanent, not temporary. The National Education Union has not carried out a national ballot on Action Short of Strike Action, so members wishing to take any new industrial action will need the support of a new industrial action ballot which would cover all National Education Union members including former ATL and NUT members.

Where teachers have previously stopped undertaking particular activities as part of Action Short of Strike Action, however, this should be regarded as a permanent change in working practices not as “ongoing action” and can continue irrespective of the lapsing of the national ballot as long as members are not still regularly asked to undertake work which they then refuse each time. A further ballot can and should be organised if managers issue fresh instructions to teachers to undertake the activities in question.

Tackling workload together

This toolkit gives advice on identifying problems and the best ways of successfully securing change. You can use these methods to tackle other issues in your workplace as well. Workload in schools has reached unprecedented levels.

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