Clegg sets out plans to cut teacher workload

22 Oct 14
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has today launched an initiative to cut the rising administrative workload faced by teachers, as part of measures to help public sector workers.

By Richard Johnstone | 22 October 2014

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has today launched an initiative to cut the rising administrative workload faced by teachers, as part of measures to help public sector workers.

Speaking to an audience of civil servants, teachers and local government and NHS staff, Clegg said the public sector workforce had remained dedicated through the ‘difficult financial times’ of the government’s deficit reduction plan.

As part of moves to support staff across these sectors, Clegg also announced additional mental health support would be made available for emergency workers, and that full sharing of paternity pay would be available from April 2015.

Setting out the ‘Workload Challenge’ consultation for teachers, Clegg said he was increasingly concerned by rising workloads.

‘I’ve met too many teachers now who feel somewhat beleaguered by the amount of administrative form filling, some of which they don’t feel makes much sense, is repetitive or is somehow seeking to second-guess their professional judgement.’

Under the consultation, which was first revealed by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, teachers across the country will be able to have their say on the causes of unnecessary workload.

Clegg said he believed it was time to stop ‘the runaway train’ of bureaucracy.

‘In government, we’ve already done this for businesses: freeing up money and resources for millions of companies,’ he said.

‘We want to do the same for the public sector – starting with teachers. This is part of the wider work being done by Nicky Morgan and [schools minister] David Laws to tackle the issue of workload across the teaching profession, following talks with trade unions.’

Under the plans, a panel led by teachers and other experts from the education sector will work with teachers, Ofsted and unions to implement reforms early next year.

National Union of Teachers general secretary Christine Blower said the announcement was welcome.

‘Our own polling on workload shows that teachers are exhausted and have no time for a life outside of work or even enough time to prepare the exciting lessons they would like to teach,’ she said.

‘Workload has gone up significantly under this government with many working 60 hours a week. It is unsustainable and resulting in the loss from the profession of a great many good teachers, both young and older.

‘We are pleased that government is listening to us. We will need to see real and significant change. It is desperately needed.’

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, added she was pleased that the coalition was finally taking teachers’ workloads seriously.

‘It is a tragedy that for so long teachers and school leaders have felt pressurised into doing tasks which do nothing to improve children’s education.

‘Teachers are spending too many hours on bureaucratic tasks such as five-page lesson plans, or multi-coloured marking, instead of being allowed to focus on effective teaching and learning to meet the needs of their pupils.’

Also today, Clegg announced that additional mental health support for emergency workers would be made available under a pilot scheme from next spring. Developed with the charity Mind, this will offer practical techniques, advice and support to help prevent staff from ‘burning out’.

He also revealed that full sharing of paternity pay in the civil service would be introduced from next April, at the time shared parental leave comes into force for all workers.

The deputy prime minister said he wanted this full sharing of pay entitlement between parents to ‘blaze a trail for other public and private sector organisations to follow’.


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