Almost two-thirds of teachers in England have raised concerns about their workload, with Ofsted cited as being the biggest driver of excessive work, according to recent poll carried out by teaching union NASUWT.
The union surveyed 7,000 teachers working in English state-funded schools in January and published the results on 5 February.
Just under two-thirds (65 per cent) of respondents said they had raised concerns about their workload with schools, and 60 per cent said that Ofsted was the biggest workload driver.
It follows a poll of 3,000 education workers carried out by Education Support late last year, which found that three-quarters of teachers felt that Ofsted inspections negatively impacted their mental health and wellbeing.
65 per cent of teachers surveyed had raised workload concerns. Photograph: iStock/bobbieo
Ofsted inspections were paused for a few weeks in January to allow for mental health awareness training for inspectors following the death of headteacher Ruth Perry, who took her own life in January 2023 while awaiting the results of an inspection. An inquest into her death found that the Ofsted inspection had been a contributing factor, and the coroner issued a series of recommendations in a Prevention of Future Deaths report.
Responding to the report on 19 January – three days before school inspections resumed – Ofsted’s new chief inspector, Sir Martyn Oliver, apologised for its role in Perry’s death and promised to launch a ‘Big Listen’ campaign over the coming months, to hear the views of education workers, parents and children.
Ofsted announced a new policy allowing for inspections to be paused and said it would train all inspectors to “recognise and respond to signs of distress in school leaders”.
Alongside Ofsted inspections, teachers surveyed by NASUWT last month also cited school policies and procedures, lack of funding, specific government policies and lack of support for pupils’ behaviour and mental health as being significant workload drivers. 60.4 per cent of respondents reported average weekly working hours during term time of between 50 and 69 hours, with just 10% rating their working hours as manageable.
“There is increasing anger once again from our members about the lack of progress being made by government on workload, working hours, working conditions and pay,” said NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach. “There is now a mountain of evidence that ministers cannot continue to ignore, showing how excessive workload pressures and long working hours, driven by inadequate funding levels and a high-stakes inspection and accountability system, are driving teachers and headteachers to breaking point.”
The Department for Education announced last September the creation of a Workload Reduction Taskforce, to “support teachers and leaders to tackle unnecessary workload”.
Initial recommendations from the taskforce were unveiled last month, including the possible removal of performance related pay for teachers, as well as a list of administrative tasks that teachers should not have to perform.
The taskforce plans to make further recommendations by the end of March 2024.
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