Reducing teacher workload- review groups feedback

Nicky Morgan has accepted “in full” the recommendations made by three expert groups tasked with reducing teacher workload. Launched in July last year, the groups focused on the three areas flagged during the government’s survey of 44,000 teachers as causing the greatest undue burden.

Planning: Eliminating-unnecessary-workload-around-marking

Marking: Eliminating-unnecessary-workload-around-planning-and-teaching-resources

Data: Eliminating-unnecessary-workload-associated-with-data-management


The group believe that three principles underpin effective marking: it should be meaningful, manageable and motivating and that schools should challenge the ‘false comfort’ of deep marking. Consistency across a department or a school is important, but this can come from consistent high standards, rather than unvarying practice. Shared expectations of marking help everybody to be clear about what is required of them, but each subject and phase should be able to determine the policy in their areas, responding to the different workload demands of each subject/phase, and drawing on teacher professionalism to create meaningful and manageable approaches. The time taken to mark does not always correlate with successful pupil outcomes and leads to wasted teacher time. If the hours spent do not have the commensurate impact on pupil progress: stop it! They also point out that accepting work that pupils have not checked sufficiently and then providing extensive feedback detracts from pupils’ responsibility for their own learning, particularly in editing and drafting skills. Pupils should be taught and encouraged to check their own work by understanding the success criteria, presented in an age appropriate way, so that they complete work to the highest standard. Summary of recommendations:

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The report notes that in the Workload Challenge responses, a key driver of particular marking practices was seen to be Ofsted. In response, in the Spring of 2015, Ofsted clearly set out that it does not expect to see any specific frequency, type or volume of marking – it is only interested in the overall effectiveness of marking policies on outcomes for pupils. This clarification is now contained within the School Inspection Handbook as follows:

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Key point here is that Am I clear on the purpose? (why is this data being collected, and how will it help improve the quality of provision?), Is this the most efficient process? (Have the workload implications been properly considered and is there a less burdensome way to collect, enter, analyse, interpret, and present the information?) and Is the data valid? (Does the data actually provide a reliable and defensible measure of educational attainment).

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The commission noted that ‘there is no intrinsic value in recording formative assessment; what matters is that it is acted on.’ This means that formative assessment data should be used for the teacher’s own planning purposes and to inform professional dialogue.The curriculum should inform how pupil learning should be recorded, progress tracked and what assessment is needed, not data processes defining the curriculum and learning: the tail should not wag the dog.

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1. Planning a sequence of lessons more important than writing individual lesson plans.

  • Lesson planning is a thinking process and detailed daily or weekly plans should not be a routine expectation.
  • Objectives, resources and feedback are intertwined in a series of lessons and planning should therefore identify what needs to be taught across a sequence of lessons, and avoid trying to fit teaching neatly into a 60-minute chunk.

2. Fully resourced schemes of work should be in place for all teachers to use each term.

  • Senior and middle leaders should ensure that a fully resourced scheme of work is in place for all teachers at least for the start of each term. Once in place, and individual teachers understand the ‘what ‘and ‘why’ of the curriculum, teachers should be free to teach it in a way that best suits their professional judgement.

3. Planning should not be done simply to please outside organisations.

  • Don’t use lesson plans as a proxy for teaching in evidence gathering- this physical evidence can offer ‘false comfort’ that all is well.

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4. Planning should take place in purposeful and well defined blocks of time.

  • Schools should look to identify blocks of time to allow for proper collaborative planning, which offers excellent opportunities for professional development.

5. Effective planning makes use of high quality resources.

  • Planning should start from the curriculum to be taught not the activities – what is being taught today, not ‘what are we doing today. As John Hattie remarks, ‘there are a million resources available on the internet and creating more seems among the successful wastes of time in which teachers love to engage’.

Summary of recommendations as follows:

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