NASUWT comments on the ‘workload challenge’

Commenting on the announcements by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and the Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan of the Workload Challenge initiative to tackle teachers’ workload, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, said:

“Nicky Morgan has only been in office a few weeks but she has been unable to avoid recognising the excessive workload burden under which the teaching profession is labouring.

“Nick Clegg has been in office for the entirety of this Coalition Government, on whose watch teacher workload has spiralled out of control.

“The fact that finally there is public recognition by Coalition Ministers of the problem and the need for action is to be welcomed and is a result of the NASUWT’s action and campaigning on this matter.

“However, whilst the ‘workload challenge’ may produce some useful information, Ministers already have a wealth of  detailed data on the extent of the problem, the nature of  teachers’ concerns and the key drivers of excessive workload.

“For the last three years the NASUWT has provided ministers with detailed evidence as a result of year on year surveys of thousands of teachers. Numerous other pieces of research, including by ComRes and the DfE’s own workload diary surveys have added to the extensive information available. All of this information has been provided by teachers themselves.

“The excessive workload, which is blighting the profession and adversely affecting recruitment, retention and teachers’ health and well-being, will never be effectively addressed until Ministers accept full responsibility for the contribution their policies have made and recognise the need for change. This is no time simply to be rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic.

“All evidence shows that teachers are tired, angry and demoralised. Their professionalism, pay, pensions and conditions of service have been relentlessly attacked by this Coalition. 61% of teachers have seriously considered leaving the profession in the last year, a figure which has risen year on year since 2011. Excessive workload is teachers’ number one concern.

“If Nicky Morgan and Nick Clegg are genuinely concerned about teachers’ workload they will need to deliver swift and effective measures to alleviate their burdens. Without this, the workload challenge runs the risk of being dismissed as a cosmetic exercise, cynically designed to seek to curry favour with teachers in the run up to the General Election.”

Notes to editors
(i)            The NASUWT has been in industrial action since 2011 in furtherance of a trade dispute with the Secretary of State for Education. Workload is one of the key elements of the trade dispute.

(ii)           The NASUWT’s annual Big Question Survey published in May 2014 showed that 84% of teachers said workload was their top concern. This figure represents a year on year rise of well over 10%. The top five drivers of excessive workload for teachers were: Inspection, Admin, Classroom observation, the teacher assessment system, and curriculum/qualifications changes.

The full survey is available on request.

Ben Padley,
Press and Media Officer,
Campaigns and Communications,
Hillscourt Education Centre
B45 8RS

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