TEACHERS are suffering from ‘ludicrous levels of workload pressure’ teachers unions have warned.
They were responding to a ‘bitterly disapointing’ new Tory government ‘Workload Challenge Survey’, the recommendations of which, the unions say, would not do anything to reduce teachers workload.
Teachers’ family life is affected because when they get home from school, their marking and lesson preparations begin.
Teachers also singled out Ofsted, the schools inspection body, as ‘the biggest single cause of teachers’ excessive workload’ because of the extra tasks and paper work required as a result of an inspection.
The teachers’ unions say that teachers are ‘exhausted by hours of pointless paperwork’.
The unions further warned that the combination of all of these stresses and strains are driving teachers out of the profession.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘Teachers will be bitterly disappointed at the government’s failure to listen to one of the central concerns of teachers and the failure to heed the workable solutions to excessive workload offered by the NUT.
‘Ofsted is central to the ludicrous levels of pressure on schools. Only a root and branch reform to put in place a professionally acceptable system can win teacher confidence.
‘At a time when the number of teachers leaving this proud profession is at a ten year high, this announcement on workload is simply insufficient.
‘Teachers will not see any great reduction in their workload as a result of the recommendations in this survey.
‘44,000 teachers took time to explain to the Secretary of State what is causing their unsustainable workload. Nicky Morgan said that she would listen.
‘She has, but with only half an ear.
‘The government must not abdicate its responsibility for excessive workload, because it is the government’s very education policies which are driving up it up.
‘Through the DfE Workload Challenge, classroom teachers in primaries and secondary schools have rehearsed the causes of their workload, and how much of it does not benefit their students.
‘Overall, a large majority of teachers identified data input and data analysis and excessive marking as the two main contributing factors to unproductive workload.
‘Government could and should immediately tackle the out-of-control accountability system, with Ofsted as its centre.
‘School performance measures in this country are causing untold damage to teachers and to the quality of education.
‘The DfE accepted today that they must think carefully about any “additional work” which is caused by their decisions and reduce it where they can.
‘However, earlier this same week, the Prime Minister told teachers that any school assessed as requiring improvement by Ofsted will be put under new leadership unless it can bring about “rapid change”.
‘David Cameron has signalled that government policy is not going to change; it will just become more intense – more pressure, more threats, more sackings.
‘Government has created a system which is designed to maximise pressures on schools – but it washes its hands of the consequences for teachers.
‘Its “solutions” – smarter working, more training, some slowdown of the pace of change – are the classic responses of a management that just doesn’t get it. Policy is the problem.
‘The NUT has suggested practical and workable solutions, and highlighted a better way forward.
‘The government hasn’t listened. This is not good enough.’
The Associaton of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said: ‘Teachers will feel ignored and bitterly disappointed the government is doing nothing tangible to cut their workload after 44,000 of them contacted Nicky Morgan to tell her about the amount of work they do.’
ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted asked: ‘What was the point of asking teachers’ opinions if the government was going to ignore their views?
‘Brushing the views of thousands of teachers under the carpet will not help raise the status of teaching or make teaching attractive to top graduates.
‘The government has dodged the issue of tackling the problems caused by Ofsted and the unreliability of its inspections.
‘Ofsted is the biggest single cause of teachers’ excessive workload, followed by tasks required by school leaders.
‘These two causes are connected because Ofsted’s judgements can make or break a school, and the variable quality of its inspectors means school leaders have no idea what they will demand to see.
‘Leaders think they have to require teachers to produce mountains of duplicated evidence to “prove” they are doing their job.
‘I’ve heard of teachers writing comments on four-year-olds’ work even when they can’t yet read.
‘Politicians have seen the problem but ignored a substantial solution. This is a missed opportunity with serious consequences for pupils.
‘Teachers and heads are having to spend hours on useless paperwork every week which takes them away from teaching children and raising the standards of education, and is demotivating them.
‘Children and young people deserve to be taught by teachers who are not exhausted by pointless paperwork.
‘The time teachers spend on endless bureaucracy is time they cannot devote to the complex, professional practice of effective teaching and learning.
‘Ticking boxes, marking pupils’ work in three different coloured pens, and five page lesson plans are all ridiculous requirements which have built up because teachers are not trusted to get on with the job.
‘Some of the government’s plans, however, are useful.
‘Heads and leaders will welcome a more measured timeline for the introduction of new policies, particularly those on qualification and curriculum reform.
‘We are pleased the government is offering further support for school leaders, and a clear requirement that they have the skills to perform their important role effectively.
‘However, this is likely to be a failed promise without more significant reform of the National College for Teaching and Leadership which is too remote from schools and not fit for purpose.
‘But overall teachers will feel badly let down by a government that has ignored the big issues that are damaging their ability to teach and which limit learning for pupils.’
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union said: ‘The coalition government’s response to the Workload Challenge demonstrates its contempt for the teaching profession.
‘The report released on Friday wilfully misinterprets and misrepresents the clear evidence provided by thousands of teachers about the chronic workload burdens they are facing as a consequence of this coalition government’s policies.
‘The coalition government has created a culture in schools where anything goes and where any adverse impact on the health and wellbeing of teachers is simply regarded as collateral damage.
‘Anyone reading the report would be forgiven for thinking that workload is a marginal issue, that the current recruitment crisis does not exist and that nearly two-thirds of teachers are not seriously considering quitting the profession.
‘The excessive workload burdens on teachers have been evident since 2011 and have risen year on year. On the eve of a general election, ministers have claimed to empathise with teachers but have published a report that is woefully inadequate given the scale of the teacher workload crisis.
‘None of this will come as any surprise to teachers. With their Workload Challenge, ministers have over-promised and under-delivered.
‘The clear message from the report is that the only respite for teachers will come from a change of government in May.’