Spurred on to post after finishing up my presentation for @TMLeics (final plug, I promise), I was reading back over the Workload Challenge and the key elements reported back by Nicky Morgan and Nick Clegg as ‘implementations’ which I would like to retitle as pointers but somewhat lacking the guidance for practical implementation. Attending Education Question Time this week, I am keen to see the practical implementation that the parties intend to embed within the education sector after creating and analysing such a vast amount of data that the survey must have produced. Whilst we wait (pigs will shortly descend overhead), I wanted to throw something out there.
What are WE doing? Now we can see the key obstacles in our path that prevent us from either being or feeling that we are doing the best job that we possibly can, how have we responded? Please do not confuse this with the acceptance that we should indeed pick up the responsibility within schools; the dictation from government changes and the Curriculum reform leave a very large proportion out of our hands; however, I am reluctant to ever sit back and believe that something that I am directly involved in, and that has such a significant impact on my work and life, that I am unable to respond in some way. The two largest elements that teachers reported as large indicators of their workload were planning and marking. Now, I see that as a positive- the very tasks that are the essence of being a fully informed, reflective practitioner remain our number one priority, even in the climate that we are currently working within. They SHOULD be and remain the parts of our role that demand the highest amount of time- no? So, it appears to me that there are two key viewpoints in order to approach and respond to these statistics. A) dedicate all time to these two, to the detriment of all other requirements of the role (unwise- this is also essentially to the detriment of children that we teach, even if not directly linked to their teaching and learning, then certainly their well-being) or B) look to reduce the time that we spend on other pressures of our workload so that we can continue to dedicate the same, if not more time to teaching and learning.
I do not have an answer for this- I do not claim that I am in a position to amend and reduce the constraints that individual schools experience with regards to policy, behaviour management, increased parental support (again, a good thing, surely?) or the administration that exists in the fall out of such an evolution within teaching. I will say that those who have the control and power to dedicate to such a task are undoubtedly seeking to review how current systems work within their schools, so that we can recognise that teachers are, even in such a state of adversity, and in a profession where over 4000 teachers are leaving on a monthly basis, still remaining focussed on placing the learning of children at the centre of their workload. Personally, I find that something to celebrate.