Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 14:14 UK

Teachers' workloads 'not reduced'

school photocopier
One of the aims was to stop teachers doing routine chores

Teachers' workloads in England and Wales have not been reduced as intended by recent reforms, research has found.

A report commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families found that any gains had been wiped out by new initiatives.

Head teachers felt teachers were less stressed and better able to focus on teaching and learning.

But support staff workloads had gone up "substantially", with many doing unpaid overtime and some taking lessons.

In some schools support staff were teaching whole classes for prolonged periods - weeks or a whole term - rather than just covering briefly for teachers.

Typically this was because qualified teachers could not be recruited, but in some cases the use of support staff rather than qualified teachers was to save money.

Bureaucracy

The workload changes, phased in from 2003, involved delegating many routine tasks that teachers had undertaken to these teaching and administrative assistants.

Limits were imposed on teachers' covering for absent colleagues.

And they were given half a day a week out of their classrooms of so-called PPA time, for planning, preparation and assessment, and time for leadership and management (LMT).

There was also "a concerted attack on unnecessary bureaucracy and paperwork" says the report by a team from the Institute for Policy Studies in Education, London Metropolitan University and BMRB Social Research.

They based the findings on questionnaires completed by 1,764 head teachers (29% of those asked) and 5,628 teachers and support staff (38%) in primary, secondary and special schools.

Their report said the vast majority of schools had put in place most of the reforms, using various strategies - though less so in poorer areas.

Focus

Among the key findings:

"There has been no overall reduction in teachers' workloads; teachers reported that this was because any reduction brought about by remodelling has been countered by other initiatives which had added to workload.

"Head teachers, and to a lesser extent, teachers themselves, suggested that workforce remodelling has made it more possible for them to focus on teaching and learning, and has reduced stress.

"There has been a substantial increase in the workload of many administrative and teaching and learning support staff.

"Many administrative staff, and those staff who sometimes take whole classes, reported working substantial periods of unpaid overtime."

Standards

About three-quarters of head teachers, but fewer teachers, said standards had improved as result of PPA time. Fewer felt LMT had raised standards.

A few heads argued that teachers now had more time to focus on teaching and learning so this must have had an impact on standards - one of the key aims of the reforms.

A similar number said that while teachers did have more time to focus, they saw no evidence of an impact on standards.

The research report also noted: "The case study data highlighted significant dissatisfaction amongst support staff in relation to pay and contractual arrangements."

These are now under review, with the setting up of a national negotiating body.

On the plus side, support staff had more opportunities for career development, status and job satisfaction, and previously unrecognised talent had been identified and developed.

But school leaders suggested many support staff now had expectations about progression and pay "that would be impossible to fulfil".



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