Teacher workload is currently firmly in the spotlight with recent surveys revealing just how strained teachers in the UK are on a daily basis. Time and workload pressures mean that on average, teachers are reported to work over 50 hours per week which is way above the UK average of 37.5 hours. This is causing teachers to have a poor work-life balance as well as increasing concerns for their mental and physical health.
It’s clear to see that something needs to be done to combat the epidemic of over-worked, stressed out teachers. Both teachers and senior leadership teams need to find a way to incorporate a more flexible approach to workloads within the education industry as a whole. There are several ways in which educators are already doing this, many of which could potentially be applied throughout the entire education sector.
Poor communication between senior leadership teams and teachers as well as parents and teachers often causes workloads to increase as information is misinterpreted or important messages get missed. Schools need to find a more flexible and effective approach to communication if they want to reduce the additional workload caused by poor communication.
With statistics revealing that more than three quarters of teachers find senior leadership team expectations have a considerable impact on their workload, the improvements in overall communication clearly need to come from the top down. If senior leadership teams can work harder to prioritise tasks and allow flexibility for the low priority tasks, some of the pressure will be taken off of the teachers’ workload.
In terms of parent-teacher communications, many schools are reluctant to be proactive in communicating because they fear it will increase their workload. However, the opposite is true for many schools which find an effective parent-teacher communication channel actually increases efficiency (see our Parental Engagement Ebook for more information). The key to success is having an effective and well planned communications strategy, as well as taking advantage of the technology available to do this.
Technology is fast becoming the modern teachers’ best friend as it helps to improve organisation, reduce workloads by automating tasks and provide a more flexible working environment. One of the main advantages EdTech offers is that it can provide teachers with the opportunity to input data into the school’s MIS, anywhere. This at least offers teachers the flexibility to do any extra administration from the comfort of their own home. With the addition of Emerge Desktop, a school’s MIS can be accessed on laptops and desktops as well.
EdTech is also helping teachers to complete a wide variety of other tasks, including online registration, systems to log student behavioural issues, parental payments, online forms, mass alerts/emails and online parents’ evening booking. This reduces administration time and keeps all the important data in one central log, allowing teachers to access important information within seconds.
Senior leadership teams must be aware that if they want teachers to adopt new technologies into their day to day working life, there should be ample training opportunities offered. Furthermore, the system they use must be intuitive.
Department for Educations’ Guidelines
Three independent workload review groups launched by the DfE investigated the biggest strain on teachers’ workloads and identified that marking policies, planning and teaching resources and data management were the three biggest pain points for teachers. Following these reviews, the DfE launched several suggested strategies which teachers could try to reduce their workload:
Using software for tracking pupil progress
- Increasing communication with parents
- Increased PPA time
- ‘Off the Shelf’ lesson plans
- Less marking and feedback, appropriate to students’ age and stage
- Reducing written lesson plans
- Incorporation of staff work-life balance into school development plans
- Using support staff
At Groupcall, we are keen to help teachers and senior leadership teams within the education sector enjoy a more flexible and adaptable working environment. Groupcall Emerge can help with flexibility by allowing teachers access to their core MIS data anywhere, any time. If you want more information on Emerge or any of our other systems, please do contact us at any time.