A new government taskforce is aiming to cut every teacher’s workload by five hours a week.
It’s hoped the new initiative will help under-pressure teachers by introducing flexible working.
The taskforce will meet for the first time this week, amid long-standing concerns about teacher recruitment and retention.
Earlier this year, a leaked government report revealed some teachers are working 60 hours or more a week – with a quarter considering leaving the profession altogether because of the “unacceptable” high workload.
While trade unions have welcomed the taskforce, there is scepticism among school leaders about whether ministers have the will to bring “systemic change”.
Earlier this year, strikes came to an end after teaching staff in England accepted a 6.5% pay rise.
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Behind the scenes of the teachers’ strikes
The 14-member body will include representatives from the four main teaching unions – as well as teachers, academics and experts.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was impossible to continue with a situation where recruitment targets for trainee teachers are constantly missed – with many of those who join the profession leaving early in their careers.
He added: “High levels of workload are driven by the underfunding of the education system, which leaves teachers and leaders doing more work with fewer resources, and an accountability system of inspections and performance tables which is excessive and punitive.
“In order to genuinely tackle workload, there will need to be some readiness on the part of the government to accept and take action to address these problems.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, said: “Our dispute with government this year was about more than money. It was also about intolerable workload and inspection pressures.”
He said the taskforce was an “important step”, but it needed to result in “tangible change”.
Schools minister Nick Gibb said: “We’ve seen rising schools standards over the last decade and that wouldn’t be possible without the work of great teachers.
“We do, however, continue to hear the concerns of teachers and school leaders about workload, which is why we want to build on the past successes in reducing workloads and continue to remove additional burdens, so that teachers can focus on what they do best: teach.”
Written by: Newsroom