Teacher Workload

The DFE have published three reports today on workload relating to:

These are short reports so I’d encourage you to take a look at them in full at the links above. Even so, to help my thinking and possibly yours, in the post below I’ve summarised the key principles established in each of them and outlined what I think are some of the key questions for Senior Leaders to consider in relation to each area. 



The report maintains that “The Teachers’ Standards state…teachers should ‘give pupils regular feedback, both orally and through accurate marking, and encourage pupils to respond to the feedback’. There is not a requirement for pupils to provide a written response to feedback: it could simply be that pupils act on feedback in subsequent work.”

There are three central recommendations in the marking report. These are that marking should be meaningful, manageable and motivating. 

Meaningful: marking varies by age group, subject, and what works best for the pupil and teacher in relation to any particular piece of work. Teachers are encouraged to adjust their approach as necessary and trusted to incorporate the outcomes into subsequent planning and teaching.”

Manageable: marking practice is proportionate and considers the frequency and complexity of written feedback, as well as the cost and time-effectiveness of marking in relation to the overall workload of teachers. This is written into any assessment policy.”

Motivating: Marking should help to motivate pupils to progress. This does not mean always writing in-depth comments or being universally positive: sometimes short, challenging comments or oral feedback are more effective. If the teacher is doing more work than their pupils, this can become a disincentive for pupils to accept challenges and take responsibility for improving their work.”

Questions to consider:

  • Does an expectation of the frequency of “deep marking,” for example that it should be fortnightly, ever impact negatively on the timing of feedback or on other aspects of practice?
  • Should you expect the same model of feedback from all teachers or should you allow them to vary their model of feedback in ways which might be more appropriate to the subject or task and more beneficial to students?
  • Do you ever look for quantity/regularity of marking over quality of feedback?
  • Do you ever expect teachers to mark to suit your monitoring rather than to impact on students?
  • Are your expectations manageable in different subject areas and will they remain manageable if changes are made to the school day? If not, how can you make them more manageable without making feedback less meaningful or motivating?
  • Do you have teachers who are doing more work than their students repeatedly?
  • Do any of your teachers accept work which students haven’t checked sufficiently themselves?


The report outlines the following four principles. School leaders and processes should:

  1. Be streamlined: eliminate duplication – ‘collect once, use many times’
  2. Be ruthless: only collect what is needed to support outcomes for children. The amount of data collected should be proportionate to its usefulness. Always ask why the data is needed.
  3. Be prepared to stop activity: do not assume that collection or analysis must continue just because it always has
  4. Be aware of workload issues: consider not just how long it will take, but whether that time could be better spent on other tasks

Questions to consider:

  • Does the data you collect help you to progress as a school and help students and groups of students to make progress?
  • How do you know that the data you collect is accurate? Might collecting less make it more accurate and more useful?
  • Is the way you present data most helpful to the people who make an impact on student progress?
  • Are you getting the right data, to the right people, at the right time to make the right decisions?
  • Do you expect teachers to input any data more than once when it could be input just once and processed electronically into other forms?
  • Is there any data which you collect which isn’t used to have an impact on student progress or attainment?
  • Could the process of inputting data be made more efficient?
  • Is there any data which you could stop collecting without this having a negative impact on student progress or attainment?
  • Could you free up time for teachers to do things which would be more impactful by stopping the collation of any of your data?
  • Do you need to collect data as frequently as you currently do?
  • Do you need to provide any further training to any staff on the gathering, processing, analysis and use of data?


The report establishes five principles of planning:

  1. Planning a sequence of lessons is more important than writing individual lesson plans
  2. Fully resourced schemes of work should be in place for all teachers to use each term
  3. Planning should not be done simply to please outside organisations
  4. Planning should take place in purposeful and well defined blocks of time
  5. Effective planning makes use of high quality resources

Questions to consider:

  • Do you expect teachers to produce detailed lesson plans which don’t benefit students?
  • Do you have collaboratively planned schemes of learning?
  • Are planning tools suitable for or flexible enough for different subject areas? 
  • Do you need to allow blocks of time for effective planning, perhaps instead of having smaller periods of PPA time?
  • Do your curriculum teams spend meeting time discussing curriculum planning rather than school business?
  • Do you and your curriculum leaders assign enough time to curriculum design and planning?
  • Do your curriculum teams have a shared understanding of what effective planning looks like in their subject area(s)?
  • How do you review time set aside for planning?
  • Do your teachers spend an unnecessary amount of time creating or searching for resources to suit the curriculum?
  • Do you ensure curriculum teams receive and/or share high quality curriculum training? 

One comment

  1. teachingbattleground · April 6, 2016

    Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.


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