Teachers are spending less than half of their time in schools teaching while schools are having to deal with meaningless data, a report warns.

According to the Department for Education’s Workload Advisory Group, most of a teacher’s time is spent on paperwork, marking and planning as well as other tasks.

Also, the group says that schools are being overwhelmed by data that has no use, but they feel obliged in collecting it.

The education secretary, Damian Hinds, says in a letter to school leaders that too many teachers are spending too much time dealing with data.

Issues over workload

The letter has been co-signed by Ofsted’s chief executive Amanda Spielman and there is an acknowledgement that the most common reason for teachers leaving the profession is with issues over workload.

Mr Hinds writes: “Teachers are working too many hours on unnecessary tasks every week, including excessive time spent on data analysis and marking.”

He says he has now stopping DfE from asking for school data other than in its current format.

Mr Hinds added that frequent data offerings and excessive monitoring of progress by a child are now not required by the DfE or by Ofsted.

The letter also offers a promise to school leaders that the DfE will not be introducing changes to the school curriculum or assessments in the life of this Parliament.

The report from the advisory group states that teachers are suffering from burnout and anxiety that is a result of the growing expectation for them to use detailed data on their pupils.

Establish good habits in reducing workload

The report also calls on teacher training providers to review their programmes to ensure that trainees establish good habits in reducing their workload.

The report states that trainee teachers should be introduced to ways and materials that help them establish these good habits and in ways to support pupils that are ‘not burdensome’.

Also, trainee teachers need to consider ‘resilience strategies and effective time management skills’.

One national newspaper has revealed that in some cases, a teacher is expected to deliver data on up to 30 different elements for each child in a class and this could be up to 30 pupils.

The report says this issue of data creation is down to a ‘spurious decision’ to provide data in tracking pupil attainment.

According to various international surveys, the workload for teachers in England rates as among the highest in the world.

This issue of dealing with excessive teacher workload is a key part of the government’s drive to boost teacher recruitment and retention rates.


More information

To read the letter to school leaders about teacher workload from the education secretary, Damian Hinds, it has been published on the Department for Education’s website.