There has been call for industrial action over the increased workload that secondary school teachers are having to deal with in Scotland.
The Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) has confirmed this week that 8,000 of it’s members are in support of the ballot to diminish the workload that they must endure. 91% of respondents claim that they would take industrial action up to the point of striking, whilst 64% say that they are willing to strike if necessary.
A representative from the SSTA has said that it moves for action to be taken against the government in order to ‘protect its members’ who asked Education Secretary Nicky Morgan for relief from such long hours. Morgan stated in a her initial address to teachers at the NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers) National Conference:
“I am committed to rising to the challenges set for the government and I hope you will consider the impact the recommendations have on the way you work, because reducing workload is not about one single policy from Whitehall, it’s about us in government, you in schools and Ofsted delivering on the report’s recommendations.”
The Scottish government has also declared support for teachers in an attempt to stave off a strike. A BBC report shows that a spokesperson of the Scottish Government was quoted saying:
“We have set out the various actions we are taking to tackle bureaucracy and free up teachers to teach, and we are already actively considering further measures. We are committed to reducing teacher workload and continued engagement with the profession will play a critical role in making this happen.”
The three main areas that the Department for Education headed by Morgan said need work are marking, planning and data management. The DfE set up a ‘review group’ for each of these three areas that needed evaluating if teachers were to have their heavy workload alleviated. The results were published on the government’s website.
It is a far cry from what teachers in Scotland ordered as, now that teachers have had time to digest the results and recommendations of educational professionals in the reports, it does not appear to have made a difference to the large majority of teacher workloads.
The three documents outline some key points of eliminating the unnecessary workload such as using a qualitative rather than quantitative marking system thereby condensing the ambivalent feedback and reducing comments to easy to understand chunks of information.
The educational expert in charge of the ‘marking’ section report and Chair of the Marking Policy Review Group, Dawn Copping says in her report that:
“Our job was to discover how we ended up here and how we could make the long overdue change needed to help restore the work-life balance, passion and energy of teachers in this country.”
“The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is looking in detail at the existing evidence on marking as part of a review, to be published shortly, including identifying gaps in research and where we need a better evidence base to serve teachers and leaders.”
None of the reports elude to any proactive means by which teachers could lessen their work burden, only ways of how to be economical with it.
A study entitled ‘Can Technology Genuinely Reduce Teacher Workload?’ carried out by John Roberts of Advanced Learning makes the point that marking, along with meta-data collection could be done autonomously by a computer. This would not only reduce teachers’ workload but also apparently help children’s computer literacy skills which would in turn help them in the future in one of the most lucrative markets in the world.