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In 2014 the government commissioned a “Teacher Workload Survey” to identify the workload challenges being faced by teachers.

The Workload Challenge consultation ran between 22 October and 21 November 2014. It was an online survey that was advertised on the Times Educational Supplement (TES) website, and also disseminated via the Department for Education and union websites, newsletters, and social media.

The scope of the survey was for teachers to provide their feedback on what they perceived to be the ‘unnecessary and unproductive’ tasks that they were required to carry out.”

The survey was centred on three open ended questions relating to:

  • Unnecessary and unproductive tasks and where they come from
  • Solutions and strategies within schools for tackling workload and what works well
  • What the government could do to tackle unnecessary workload.

The survey got more than 40,000 responses, and it provides interesting insights into the challenges faced by teachers.

It uncovered that as well as tasks that were unnecessary or unproductive, among those that were necessary the level of detail, duplication or bureaucracy could have a negative impact on teacher workload.

Although not every response was fully reported due to the number of responses and the style of the survey, a number of different factors affecting workload were identified amongst the results analysed:

  • The volume of work compared to the time available (particularly for marking)
  • Unrealistic deadlines
  • Long or irrelevant meetings
  • Too many sources of information to manage/monitor
  • Lack of ICT training or equipment
  • Lack of clarity

The most frequently mentioned tasks contributing to unnecessary and unproductive workload fitted within the category of lesson planning and policies, assessment and reporting administration (82% of respondents mentioned tasks which fitted into this category).

This shows that any steps made to make these processes more efficient can have a positive impact upon teacher workloads.