Teaching is a rewarding yet demanding profession. Teachers and school leaders cite workload as the number one concern about their jobs. While progress has been made, research shows there is still scope to go further.
In July 2023, the government commissioned a report on workload reduction. It found that educators estimate they worked more than seven “unnecessary hours” a week on average. A May 2023 report from the wellbeing charity Education Support found that most school staff were working at least four extra hours a week to provide additional pupil support.
According to recent NASUWT findings, four in every five teachers say that their workload and the stress of the job have increased. Educators report that they are spending more time on pastoral care, admin, data and assessment than ever before.
Excessive workload has an impact on educators’ health and wellbeing. Half of teachers say that their workload has affected their physical and mental health. Workload can undermine a teacher’s ability to teach. It is often a reason cited by educators leaving the profession.
In January 2024, the Workload Reduction Taskforce, a group made up of unions, teachers, and sector leaders, agreed to early recommendations to help reduce teacher workload. They support the Department of Education (DfE) to reduce educators’ working week by five hours within the next three years. The government also plan to work with schools to “make use” of the current five INSET days for workload reduction.
In the meantime, there are some ways teachers can reduce their workload in 2024.
Tips for Teachers
Embrace technology, artificial intelligence and automation
Digital tools are becoming more intuitive and tailored to educational needs. Some educators believe that technology, like artificial intelligence (AI), could help educators manage workloads. A 2020 McKinsey report reports that 20 to 40 per cent of the tasks that teachers spend time on (marking, lesson planning, and administration) could be outsourced to technology.
Automation can be an asset in managing administrative tasks, freeing up more time for engagement with pupils. Utilise platforms that automate administrative tasks, and provide virtual learning environments.
Tools like Quizlet, Google Forms, and Diagnostic Questions can save teachers time and reduce workload. These platforms enable educators to create quizzes that students can take on their own, with the system marking responses and providing instant feedback.
Identify what needs immediate attention and what can wait. Use a digital planner or project management tool to organise your tasks and deadlines. Find a method that works for you from The ABCDE method to the Eisenhower matrix.
Reduce admin where you can
Having efficient organisational systems, which could include digital filing and scheduling, helps teachers prioritise tasks. It reduces the time spent on paperwork. Utilising secure cloud-based storage platforms can help with easy sharing and access. And reduce the need for paperwork.
The workforce reduction task force has set a list of administrative tasks that teachers shouldn’t have to do. Examples include that teachers should not cover absent teachers, do bulk photocopying or investigate a pupil’s absence.
Collaborate with colleagues
Recognise that you're not alone in this journey. Promote a culture of collaboration within your school. Collaboration can reduce the time spent on lesson planning and marking. Sharing responsibilities, resources, and strategies with colleagues creates a supportive environment. One where educators can lean on each other.
Lesson Plan effectively
Efficient planning is key. Crafting impactful lesson plans requires precision. It involves:
consideration of learning objectives
diverse instructional methods
A well-crafted lesson plan provides structure, coherence, and flexibility. This ensures educators adapt to pupils' needs while creating an engaging learning environment. To enhance lesson planning efficiency, utilise:
innovative teaching methods
This creates engaging and purposeful learning experiences. Make use of free resources such as:
Twinkl has resources for lessons for primary and secondary schools.
Tes has over 900,000 resources made by teachers for teachers. There are lesson plans, worksheets, and activities for all curriculum subjects.
BBC Teach has curriculum-mapped videos, arranged by age group and subject
Effective planning is the bedrock of successful teaching. Where possible, embrace tools that automate administrative tasks, streamline communication, and engage in collaborative planning with colleagues. This optimises your time and enables you to focus on delivering lessons.
Consider training and development
Stay ahead of educational trends and methodologies by investing time in professional development. Continuous learning enhances your teaching skills and makes lesson planning more efficient. If time permits, attend workshops, webinars, and conferences to stay connected with the evolving educational landscape.
Improve your time management
Implementing effective time management strategies, such as setting aside time for administrative tasks, can help prevent these tasks from eating into teaching. Creating dedicated time for focused work can help:
structure the day
allocate time efficiently
Advocate for relevant resources
Communicate with your school about the resources you need. Whether it's updated teaching materials, additional support staff, or training and development opportunities, advocating for resources is essential to creating an environment conducive to effective teaching.
Set boundaries and practice self-care
Working in education often comes with stress. It’s important to separate work from personal life. Allocate specific times for work and stick to them. Remember to take care of your physical and mental health. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and mindfulness practices can help manage stress. Seek support from colleagues to alleviate stressors and maintain emotional wellbeing.
The NASUWT Workload Checklist
NASUWT has published a Workload Checklist that seeks to empower members and encourage employers to demonstrate the value they place on teachers with actions they take to address educator workload. The Workload Reduction Toolkit provides information and advice from the government on ways in which schools can tackle excessive and unnecessary workload burdens.
Working in supply can be a great way to reduce teacher workload. According to a recent survey by the NEU, the primary motivation for transitioning to supply work among the existing supply workforce in recent years has been the excessive workload associated with permanent teaching positions.
Supply teachers don’t have the administrative burden that comes with being a full-time teacher. This means that you can focus on teaching and not worry about the paperwork after they finish for the day.
Embrace Change in 2024
Stepping into 2024 brings a new set of challenges and opportunities for educators in schools in England and Wales. While balancing the demands of teaching with administrative tasks can be overwhelming, with strategic approaches, you can ensure you have a more manageable workload.
By prioritising tasks, encouraging collaboration, embracing technology, establishing boundaries, investing in training and development, and advocating for resources, you can create a sustainable and rewarding teaching experience.
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