Something is happening to teacher workload. Could the sixty hour weeks be coming to an end? Hands up, who had a Christmas shopping day last December? Who now gets a duvet day every term?
Schools are now waking up to the fact that they need to act on teacher workload. So long as they do nothing they’re losing good teachers, they’re spending too much on recruitment, and they’re leaving too many classes for too long with supply teachers*.
Whilst duvet days have still to reach most schools some are already closing in on meaningful action on teacher workload. And whilst duvet days are still coupled with massive marking piles then they do seem to be little more than a sticking plaster approach to fixing a massive
The City of London Academy now offers a free mindfulness course to all staff. Further measures include finishing meetings promptly, trials of more sustainable marking methods and classroom observation treated as a developmental (not punitive, then?) tool.
The City of London Academy should be applauded for realising that current workload levels cannot be sustained. In the United Kingdom, the Education Support Partnership reports that 44% of teachers who responded to a recent poll don’t expect to be working in the sector five years from now. Workload forms a large part of the blame for this statistic. An American academic, Richard Ingersoll, who’s studied his country’s teacher turnover estimates that it now costs the US economy upwards of $2.2 billion per year. Getting teachers to stay in their jobs is common sense, financially and otherwise.
Unfortunately, the City of London Academy is in a small minority of schools taking effective action on workload. They stand a better chance than most of retaining teachers this summer. The government continues to renege on its responsibilities regarding workload but schools can and must get involved too. Nobody wants to do a job that should take forty hours a week and instead takes sixty-five. Nobody wants to send their child to a school which has a completely new set of teachers each September. We need action on teacher workload now.
*The flip side to this is that the quality of supply teachers has never been better. Phone an agency and they’re likely to send you an ex-head of department or advanced skills teacher.