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Government urged to reduce teachers' workload

Research by the National Education Union reveals workload to be the number one reason teachers are quitting

THE National Education Union (NEU) urged the government today to reduce teachers’ workload after new research revealed that unnecessary tasks are the main reason for teachers quitting.

The NEU’s report says that 78 per cent of secondary-school teachers and 69 per cent of primary teachers think that the amount of marking they do is unmanageable.

And just a quarter of primary teachers and less than a fifth of secondary teachers have seen any review or change in practice at their schools since the government’s 2016 pledge to lighten workloads.

Of particular concern is triple marking, which still happens in 63 per cent of primary schools and nearly 60 per cent of all secondary schools. The system, whereby teachers mark pupils’ work, pupils respond to feedback and then teachers mark again, has been criticised for creating endless streams of paperwork.

The photographing of practical work is still being conducted by 82 per cent of primary teachers — an act seen as impractical and time-consuming by the union, particularly as most primary classes contain 30 or more youngsters. The union believes that this is an aspect of data collection by teachers which is unworkable, with 63 per cent of secondary teachers and 66 per cent of primary teachers questioned believing that it is an unmanageable amount.

NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said that the survey shows that the Department for Education (DfE) must give headteachers the confidence to drop much of the extra work that bogs teachers down.

He said: “Successive governments created an accountability machine — through Ofsted, performance targets and league tables — which is now out of the DfE’s control and extremely hard to stop.

“In the short-term, government and Ofsted have to be more forceful in their messaging, but there is also an urgent need to remove the drivers themselves from the system.

“The clearest signal which government could send to schools that they are committed to a new approach would be to announce that Ofsted will be replaced by an organisation dedicated to the support of school improvement.”

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