Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg wants to end the “runaway train of bureaucracy” in England, allowing teachers to spend more time in the classroom and less time completing busywork.
Clegg will be asking teachers to submit examples of administrative tasks that they believe could be done away with and to present some solutions to the issue as part of a “workload challenge.”
Solutions will be reviewed by a panel of teachers and education experts over the coming year. The panel will then create a plan of action to deal with the issues.
“We’re talking about hours spent struggling to stay on top of piles of incident reports, over-detailed lesson plan templates, health and safety forms, departmental updates, training requests and so on that threaten to engulf them every week. Not to mention the reams of additional evidence which teachers pull together because of a long-held belief that Ofsted inspectors want to see everything written down,” said Clegg.
Teachers in the country work an average of 48 hours each week, according to international data, with only 20 hours spent in the classroom.
The extra hours are spent preparing lessons, grading, and completing administrative tasks. According to the data, teachers in England spend more time on these tasks than teachers in countries of high-performing students.
Teachers are being asked to contribute to the challenge through a dedicated page on the Times Educational Supplement’s website.
“We’re asking teachers across the country to take a long, hard look at how they spend their working day and what pointless processes and paperwork they think should be cut or scrapped altogether,” he will say.
In his upcoming speech, Clegg will touch upon the “misguided impression” that teaching is a career that features short hours and long vacation time. He is expected to say that some of the work must be completed, but that a large majority of it can be gotten rid of.
“I believe it’s time for us to stop that runaway train of bureaucracy in its tracks, giving our teachers more time to do what they do best: creating and planning the best possible lessons and experiences for our children.”
Teaching unions in the country are happy to hear Clegg’s announcement, looking at it as a sign that the government is listening to their needs and is “finally taking teachers’ workloads seriously.”
However, not everyone is so enthusiastic. Shadow education secretary Tristam Hunt said Clegg is not to be trusted, referring to him as “part of the government that has denigrated the professionalism of teachers”.
Last month, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan had promised teachers she would work to reduce their workload, saying she would make it her priority to “reduce the overall burden on teachers.”