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DfES response to teacher workload study

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The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) have commented on the initial findings of a major independent study of teacher working practice and workload, commissioned by the Department and being carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

PwC’s findings were presented yesterday afternoon to the group steering the review – which includes representatives from all the teacher and headteacher associations. They identify the main factors driving teacher and headteacher workload and provide the basis for the next phase of the study, which will make proposals for practical solutions.

Stephen TimmsSchool Standards Minister, Stephen Timms said, “We know that teachers have a challenging job. They are making a huge contribution to improving standards in our schools. We are clear that workload must be manageable. That is why we set up this review – to find practical ways of reducing excessive workload.

“We want to build on what is already in place: substantially increased investment in schools generally, and in support staff and ICT in particular. We are committed to increasing by 2006 the number of teachers by 10,000; and support staff by 20,000.”

Key findings of the study reveal:

  • the intensive nature of teachers’ working week – driven in part by the pattern of the academic year;
  • that teachers are undertaking tasks that could be carried out by other staff;
  • the need for more effective use of ICT;
  • potential for more time for planning and professional development;
  • evidence of wide variations in how workload is managed at school level;
  • the need for national agencies, including the DfES, to take more account of the impact on teachers’ workload of new initiatives and programmes.

Mr Timms added, “The next phase of the study will be key. It will need to look at practical solutions to these issues. In particular it will be useful to explore why workload appears to be managed more effectively in some schools than others. It will be an opportunity to look in more depth at what the barriers are and how they have been and can be successfully negotiated. We will continue to work closely with the unions and employers in the next phase of the study.

“To achieve the Government’s goal of public service reform, we need to empower staff. And we can only do that by working in partnership with them. That is why this review is so important to ensure teachers are able to deliver the world class standards of education pupils and parents deserve.”

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