One of the ways reps have managed to win on workload has been through the use of the DfE toolkit, an online resource developed in consultation with the education unions and Ofsted.
It contains workshops and resources to use in team meetings and INSET days to start a professional dialogue between staff and leaders to identify unnecessary, time-consuming practices that could be eliminated.
The DfE has made it clear this should be a collaborative process involving all staff to ensure that workload is reduced and not simply redistributed.
The toolkit isn’t perfect, but it is an opportunity to win professional control and make a difference in schools. The DfE is encouraging staff to draw on their expertise to identify the main drivers of workload in their school and agree a plan with school leaders to reduce or eliminate practices that do not contribute to teaching and learning.
Stage 1: identify the issues
Use the audit tools provided by the DfE to find out what areas and tasks colleagues in your school are spending time on. You can send out a survey or hold informal workshops to collect the data. Once you have done this, you will have all the information that you need to move on to stage two.
Stage two: address the issues
To help address the issues you identified in stage one, the DfE have provided specific resources for the following areas of work:
- Communications: includes an email protocol and communications policy used in actual schools.
- Curriculum planning: includes a planning expectations workshop and allows staff to assess what does and does not work within the current system.
- Data management: includes a data collection workshop and an audit form to help in this process.
- Feedback and marking: a workshop to explore the current approach and one secondary and one primary example of actual feedback policies.
- Managing change: a presentation for SLT to use with staff to plan an annual calendar to avoid pinch points, an example of a whole-school approach to wellbeing, an example of a letter sent to parents to communicate change in relation to how feedback is given, and a suggested impact matrix for reviewing marking and assessment.
- Supporting teachers in the early stages of their career: advice for school leaders and mentors/induction tutors on how to support early career teachers, which focuses reducing the burdens associated with the first five years of a teacher’s career, to keep them in the profession.
- Tips and case studies from school leaders, teachers and sector experts: tips on reducing workload, including through the use of technology, with case studies showing how particular schools have changed their practice.
Then move on to Stage 3.
Stage three is about evaluating the impact of the workload review and any changes you have made. The DfE has provided a checklist to help evaluate the impact, along with two examples of how a school has set up a well-being committee and a workload and wellbeing action plan.
Ask about the workload letter
The Secretary of State (SoS) for Education has written a letter on reducing workload to all leaders across the country supporting reducing teacher and support staff workload and making clear recommendations on data management gathering.
If you're an NEU rep, we want you to ask your school leader if they've read the Workload Advisory Group report and the letter.