Excessive Teacher Workloads

Since Michael Gove entered office, barely a week has gone by without a review of another examination or national curriculum subject. This has piled on the paperwork and seen the workload of the average primary and secondary classroom teacher increase by nine hours and six hours a week respectively. Labour recognises that the workload issue is one of the greatest killers of progression and commitment in the teaching profession, which is all the more worrying at a time of looming teacher shortages.

So whilst we have some deep concerns about some of the Government’s changes, such as the removal of practical learning from a range of subjects, we think it is important to have a period of stability in what is taught in our schools. In order to promote continuity in the classroom, a Labour government would retain the new primary curriculum and, in the main, continue with the GCSE changes. We would not, however, go ahead with decoupling AS and A Levels, which would leave young people without the opportunity to reach the highest standards and realise their full potential. An end to the relentless change will mean teachers can concentrate on what really matters: their subject knowledge and classroom practice.

Whilst Labour recognises that it is important for schools to be inspected in order to raise standards for children, we think inspections must be intelligent, consistent and carried out by conscientious professionals. The recent reforms at Ofsted are welcome, with their focus on much less prescriptive box-ticking. This should help to ensure that alongside raising standards for children, inspections do not add to the workload issue by creating unnecessary paperwork for teachers.

Labour will also deliver great professional development for teachers, including school leaders, so that head teachers do not create excessive or needless paperwork for their classroom teachers. The best schools do not improve because head teachers micro-manage each individual lesson plan, but because they make time for constructive feedback and supportive performance management. To support head teachers in their hugely important work, Labour will introduce New Leadership Partnerships between businesses and schools to improve the management skills and expertise required by head teachers. We will also create a new prestigious School Leadership Institute to champion high quality leadership and accredit new headship qualifications.