Teachers’ paperwork to be cut

Nicky Morgan has announced plans to cut the unnecessary workload faced by teachers, so they can spend more time with pupils.

The Education Secretary wants teachers to spend more of their working week in the classroom rather than carrying out administrative tasks, the Telegraph reports. Nicky Morgan wrote to seven teaching unions before starting talks this week, reinforcing her determination to distance herself from Michael Gove’s more combative approach to them.

Her announcement follows research published during the summer that showed that teachers in England spend just a third of their working week teaching, although they work longer hours than their peers in other European countries. Teachers in secondary schools work 48 hours a week but spend just 20 hours in the classroom – the rest is spent on administration, lesson planning and marking.

In the letter Mrs Morgan said she wanted to focus on the unnecessary workload teachers experience: “I have been struck by the national and international evidence around this issue…but also by what I have heard from individual teachers about the tasks they are sometimes asked to take on,” she said. “Teachers join the profession to teach and we have a common interest in reducing – where we can – unnecessary work that takes teachers’ time away from teaching.”

Mrs. Morgan will be hoping that her announcement and her willingness to attend talks with the teaching unions will reduce the threat of further strike action by the NUT in October.

Do you welcome Nicky Morgan’s announcement? Is strike action now less likely in October? Share your views with the Eteach community!

29 thoughts on “Teachers’ paperwork to be cut

  1. I totally Support Nicky on this. It is about time that teachers lives and jobs are simplified and stress removed Teachers are employed to teach pupils. But all we can see that they are not teaching. Out of 48 hours they only teach for 20 hours these outrageous poor children and we are wandering why children in England are not doing well in their studies. I hope as a result of this campaign thing will. Change for teachers.

    Teaching Assistant

  2. Like everyone in my profession I welcome the statement that the Education Secretary wants to reduce “unnecessary workload”, but given that the majority of this work is focussed around providing evidence for Ofsted, HMI, Challenge Partners, DfE or anyone else who wants to come and pontificate about the quality of teaching in schools I wonder how she is going to achieve her goal.

  3. Reading between the lines… Remove PPA and teachers work even longer hours outside of the school day. I am away from my class for 3 1/2 hours, 1 1/2 of those because they are taught by specialist sports and music teachers. My school day with pupils starts at 8.30, we have a 45 minute lunch which I work through and then they leave at 3.20. I rarely leave before 5pmost often 6 and continue my work at home. To take PPA away as well would make my work life balance far worse because I highly doubt the paperwork can be reduced

  4. how does this fit in with the change to SEN funding and responsibility, which seems to move more responsibility and thus admin/paperwork/meeting time to classroom teachers. Perhaps a limit on class size would be a good first step. I have 35/36 which is too many. A simple sum on marking time, shows that!

  5. Promises like this have been made time and again, so after 36 years of teaching, I’ll believe it when I see it!

  6. It’s what teachers spend those 28 hours a week out of the classroom having to do which is questionable. Planning engaging lessons and resourcing them is essential. Unfortunately (speaking as an ex-teacher) far too much time is wasted on jumping through hoops and unnecessary paperwork which have little or no impact on teaching and learning. If we are serious about change judge teachers on their teaching and not their paperwork! Make ALL Ofsted inspections no-notice inspections and find out for the first time what
    Schools are really like!

  7. While I’m all for reducing some of the unnecessary paperwork, I’m a little sceptical – does this mean she will remove some paperwork but also our PPA time?? It she does that, we’ll probably not be any better off as some of the paperwork is necessary!

    I’ll wait and see the meat on the bones of this proposal.

  8. I totally support Nicky Morgan. I have to say children are not doing well because they are taken out of the class for reading by TA while class teacher carries on with the lesson for rest of the class. These children miss the lesson and then struggle with it. This should be stopped. In my opinion no child should be taken out of the classroom for reading or music lesson when the class teacher is teaching. Music lessons should be held after school. When all this is stopped we will see the improvement. Teachers spend too much time on administration, lesson planning and marking.They work hard. There is no need to have TAs as they don’t plan the lesson, they don’t do any admin work and they don’t mark the work. They can not do any of this because they are not qualified at all. I know TAs who are not even GCSE qualified. How can you leave a child who is struggling in studies with TA who does not have any qualifications.Parents need to support the teachers by spending some time with children at home for reading and helping them with their studies.


  9. Call me old fashioned and cynical…
    General election around the corner, anyone…?
    After the wholesale shafting the profession has taken over the (not many) years I’ve been in the job I find it difficult to show huge confidence. We’ll wait and see.

  10. At last and hopefully not just another ‘pie in the sky’ statement to pacify a teaching force already stressed and overloaded with being over-burdened with unnecessary paperwork (policy document after policy document!) that in all essence eventually amounts to ‘a waste of teaching time’. Leave the paperwork to the staff that are tasked to perform administrative duties and allow the teachers to TEACH. I will, however, only believe all of what the new Education Secretary has ‘promised’ when it actually materialises. Perhaps after this has been looked into, we could also review the whole system of inspection and the actual inspectors who make up this group of ‘educators’. The previous Education Secretary (!?) really believed that the inspection system was beyond reproach. With the new Education Secretary it will be hoped that teachers will again be able to recapture the title “professional” that they undoubtedly lost under the previous ‘character’. Under a succession of previous Governments and here I include present incumbents, teachers remuneration remains a bone of contention. Whilst ministers/members of parliament continue to reward themselves for a ‘job well done’, teachers …. enough said! Through this debate about ‘too much paperwork’ I remind those in power that not only do we teach, we counsel pupils and parents and often our own colleagues – some of us work during our holiday – the job does not end when the pupils leave at the end of a school day – we also coach sport, man activities/clubs, mark and comment on homework/project tasks at night, we attend meetings (many at night) – prepare lessons to motivate and dare I say ‘entertain’ (competing with modern media) our pupils – the list of tasks goes on and on …… and then paperwork follows; the oft paper-trail that goes nowhere!

  11. Come on guys get real. 48 hours, this is the minimum on a good week. How can you mark 29 kids work in less than one hour? This is only one class at Key Stage 3.
    How many classes per week does a teacher have at Key Stage 3
    Key Stage 4 classes are smaller but the work loads per child mean I have to give up Saturday mornings and days from my holidays to get them through!
    What is really being said here is lets add more teaching contact time in. Give the teacher more work, more contact time, more marking.
    Ofstead want teachers to show ‘progress over time’ for pupils. This can only come with paperwork and lots of it.

  12. I am a primary school teacher and work 8am -6 every day in school and 7;30pm to 11;30pm every night except Saturday when I give myself a day off. Most of the non teaching time is spent on planning, assessment and preparation, marking 90 + books a night with 2 stars and a wish as well as other administrative tasks! I am exhausted most days. This is what its like for all the teaching staff in my school and I for one can’t dee any let up no matter how much Nicky Morgan promises. We need to also look at the pressures put on teachers from OFSTED!

  13. I agree with Lyanne, as with everything this Government comes up with, the proof is in the pudding.
    Cutting back on teachers having to collate and analyse so much data rather than do what they are gifted in, which is in developing the WHOLE child, not just their academic side, would be greatly welcomed.
    The data is recognised as useful and essential but the teacher shouldn’t have to be the one doing the inputting and general admin tasks surrounding it. We are the recorders of data through professional judgement – not the data inputers surely? Once it’s all administrated then we, as professionals can use our judgement to decide how best to use it.
    …..And teachers working a 48 hour week – that I assume in a yearly average? In term time it can average form a 70-90 hour week. no such thing as a work life balance.
    Strikes are necessary to make Governments listen – and until they do and they show us we are valued as quality professionals, then disruption to the status quo is essential – and I’m not militant – I hate striking and losing precious lesson time, but if it results in the greater good then so be it.

  14. I agree. It will be a con. I spend from 7.30am until 5pm every day in my primary school. I work at least 1-2 hours per evening and go in Sundays for 2-3 hours peaceful getting things straight.
    I have no work life balance in between school holidays. In my 26 years teaching the work load has increased ten fold. I suspect PPA will be removed and we will in fact be less better off all round. I can’t speak for my Secondary colleagues- but I am sure 20 hours teaching will be the usual exaggeration, which will cause further lack of respect for what is a very misunderstood, undervalued and underpaid profession.

  15. How is planning and marking ‘unnecessary’? Secondary school teachers are in the classroom far more than 20 hours a week! Flawed ideas based on flawed evidence.

  16. Right decision! In Russia teachers have to do most useless bureaucratic-paper work, but not to teach children at school. The result is bad students’ knowledge.

  17. The only way that this really can be done is to reduce the number of lessons teachers teach or the number of students they teach. This will in effect require more teachers which we haven’t got. Unless they are going pay teachers more….

  18. As a course leader of A Level I teach 23 hours a week and 8 other subjects from L1 to L3.
    Whilst it would be nice to have more time in the classroom Ms Morgan seems to overlook the lesson prep and planning and marking as a result of increased teaching contact!

    We all take at least 12 hours prep/marking home each week and I can’t see how this would do anything but increase the home work we all have as teachers!

  19. We all need time for lesson preparation time and most of us enjoy planning lessons that motivate learners to find out more about the subjects we teach, what we do find annoying is the continued demand for target setting and report writing.

    By all means let us have more time in the classroom teaching our subjects well instead of trying to condense it into impossible time constraints. I used to teach food technology and only had one hour to get them into the room, hands washed, aprons on, equipment out, food cooked and everything washed up and put away…. impossible to cook anything other than basic simple dishes. Even apple crumble had to be done over two weeks or sent home uncooked!!! yet there was still the same demand for targets and report writing on progress.. what progress? how can our students progress with such ridiculous timetabling?

    Let’s get real and take a good hard look at what we are teaching and how it is to be achieved and then plan accordingly for it within a realistic timetable.

  20. It is about time we are allowed to teach, without all the criticism, targets and unnecessary monitoring. Teachers went into the profession to teach children and make a difference to their lives. We need time to teach, plan, mark work constructively and allow children to be taught at their appropriate levels. Achievement of all children should be valued, not just students or children who get the highest grades.

  21. I see you have chosen not to publish my comment – obviously a party political decision? Please inform me ad to what the problem was …

  22. The welfare of teachers is extremely important and often most neglected. If the profession is to recruit and then retain effective teachers it is only sensible to assess whether what they are being asked to do provides for a sustainable living. It is a sad indictment of much prior education policy that these aspects have seldom appeared a likely agenda item. Yet much of what is commonly discussed in terms of performance, attainment and pupil progress depends on teachers being alert and on top of their game. I note that alongside this article there are calls from the DFES for longer school days, will this necessarily not mean longer hours? At a international education conference I once asked about the perceived quality of English Science teachers. The comment came back that they had a good knowledge base, but were typically exhausted. A recent TES article points to another big issue. Students often rest on the industriousness of their teachers rather than taking ownership for themselves. There have been developing tendencies for the teacher not so much to be seen as a facilitator and helper, more as a shop owner trying to sell goods that they may or may not wish to buy, students knowing that the accounts manager will step in, if enough goods have not been sold that day. It appears we are reinforcing a culture within schools where teaching has been confused with examination coaching and where the parental and student responsibilities have been negated or passed on. This is a moral and therefore an educational crisis, even worse if we uncritically accept it as part of modern education. The issue is not only about paperwork it is about accountability at all levels, among all stakeholders, being appropriately understood and accepted.

  23. I agree with antoinette . The majority of my non teaching time is spent planning lessons, creating new and better teaching materials and marking thoroughly with formative comments etc. of course there is some unnecessary admin and meetings it would be nice to see the back of, but it wouldn’t save me that much time, whereas an increase in teaching hours would entail more of the essential prep and marking. Heads will be happy though because it will cut the wages bill.

  24. Helen, I do agree with you totally. Also, analysing data such as: how boys, girls, nations, travellers, ect. ect. are achieving. Endless calculating and filling in boxes. At that point, I always wonder, if anybody is reading it at all, but it takes a lot of our time, and it’s not planning, preparing or teaching.

  25. It seems that whenever someone wants to curry favour with teachers they bleat about “reducing unnecessary paper work”. That’s great, but it would be nice to see some flesh on the bones. Are marking loads going to be reduced? Is there going to be a limit on overall hours worked? Are meetings going to be limited formally? And then can we get on to the inspection/accountability culture which has spiralled out of all control? Experienced staff are being bullied and harassed out of jobs merely because they can be. This new secretary seems to want to talk, but if she’s not prepared to listen at least a little bit, then it’s not going to help.

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