The Working Life Of Teachers & Workload Reduction
Outgoing schools minister Nick Gibb, who has served in this role for 10 of the past 13 years, has undoubtedly been very influential for schools in England. From overseeing a dramatic expansion in the academies programme to the push behind phonics and the ‘knowledge-rich’ curriculum, Mr Gibb has been at the helm and should be credited with a clarity of vision, even if you disagree with the policies. Mr Gibb published an interview with the I newspaper at the weekend that was almost a valedictory speech, but included the admission that teachers will need to be paid more in order to avert a recruitment and retention crisis. It is a shame that he was not a stronger voice for this when in charge!
But with 2024 schools funding only growing at 1.9% and inflation still running at 4.7%, this suggests a very tight pay round to come and it seems unlikely that a further tranche of HM Treasury cash will be available to make step change in teacher pay. So how can school leaders try to retain the staff they have and recruit the ones they need? The Department for Education is due to update their recruitment and retention strategy, last updated in 2019, so we must wait a little longer to see what is planned centrally. Recruitment continues to fall well short of targets in most areas, as the NFER Labour Market report underscores.
One thing that school leaders can act on right now is to making work/life balance for teachers and staff more manageable during term time.
This DfE report into the working lives of teachers and leaders survey was carried out in spring 2022 with state schools in England. Two-thirds of teachers (66%) reported that they spent over half of their working time on tasks other than teaching, rising to 77% of secondary teachers. Most teachers and leaders disagreed that their workload was acceptable (72%) and that they had sufficient control over it (62%). As SchoolsWeek reported, progress on workload reduction after the 2015 ‘Workload Challenge’ and 2018 Toolkit seems to have stalled, and workload of school leaders actually increased since 2019.
The DfE have created a workload reduction taskforce (September 23) with the aim to reduce workload by five hours per week over the next three years. There isn’t a date yet published for this team’s conclusions, but there was a very useful review conducted by Richard Churches and Rachael Fitzpatrick from the Education Development Trust that was published in July 2023 called ‘Workload Reduction in schools and England’ that I have drawn from to make suggestions on how data, EdTech, AI and Bromcom may begin to make some inroads into reducing workload for teachers and leaders:
- Reduced reporting cycles, leading to fewer data inputting requirements.
- Use automation to help with data analysis and produce actionable insights.
Approach in Bromcom
Use templates in Bromcom to create a curriculum or reporting marksheets that can be automatically distributed to subjects/year groups. Features such as termly progress calculations or formula columns can analyse data as it is entered. Primary tracker, Dashboards, Analysis reports and PowerBI viewer can also be used to reduce the time taken to aggregate and analyse data:
Feedback and Marking
- Using Bromcom student portal to set homework and use bulk marking and homework analysis tools.
- Use Bromcom AI to produce quiz question sets and answers, including auto-marking in Bromcom or paste into another tools such as Quizizz or Quizlet.
- Introduce whole class feedback.
- Produce rubrics for student self/peer assessment or for AI to grade assignments.
Approach in Bromcom
Feeding a whole class set of answers and asking Chat GPT for a summary of common strengths and weaknesses can be a very effective approach, so long as the OpenAI guidance on a ‘human in the loop’ is followed to validate the output
Luke Kemper from Haringey Education Partnership has written a practical series of tips on how to use Chat GPT for assessment. Remember that Chat GPT can be accessed in a secure manner via Bromcom.
Curriculum planning and resources
- Shared/team planning with other teachers.
- Purchased planning schemes/schemes of work.
- Eliminating day to day planning.
Approach in Bromcom
Bromcom AI can be used to generate lesson plans that can be stored and shared with other staff or directly with students, subject to the ‘human in the loop’ advice – https://bromcom.com/bromcom-ai
MagicSchool.ai also has a rich set of tools for content generation – https://www.magicschool.ai/
Each school/trust will have a policy around curriculum content (some multi academy trusts have central teams to design and produce) but even at a school level, a group of science and maths teachers can easily pool resources and create a structured scheme of work that will reduce the ‘Sunday night dread’.
- Counselling services to support learners with behavioural problems.
- Centralised detentions.
Approach In Bromcom
Using Behaviour dashboards and watchlists to identify students that have behavioural support needs. Creating intervention groups can help to timetable and measure the impact.
- Use automated notifications to keep staff or parents informed about pastoral events.
- Avoid whole-staff emails. Target messages to those who need to know.
- Make parents evenings manageable for staff.
Approach In Bromcom
Selecting one or more students from the Students list in Bromcom and then Send SMS/Email allows messages to be sent to staff, including timetabled teachers, tutor, head of year etc.
Bromcom has extensive features to manage parents evenings. Ensure that staff schedules have breaks built in. If your school has Office 365 or Google integration there will be an option for an online invitation for a virtual consultation. Staff and parents can appreciate the flexibility of conducting the appointment remotely.