National conference in Nottingham to discuss solutions to teacher workload concerns

A national conference in Nottingham will see educational leaders from across the country come together to discuss ways to improve teacher recruitment and retention. There is widespread agreement, including from the government, that reducing teacher workload is the most important factor in doing so.

Nottingham will welcome councils and schools from across the UK to discuss good practice in reducing workloads. They will hear from key speakers from Ofsted, the National Education Union and the Department for Education, School Employment and Teacher Retention Division.

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Hosted by Nottingham’s Education Improvement Board (EIB) which was behind the development of the Fair Workload Charter, the conference will focus on ‘reducing teacher and support staff workload in order to improve teacher recruitment and retention.’

The “Fair Workload Charter” was launched last autumn, urging schools to cap the work teachers are expected to perform in their own time at no more than two hours a night.

In February 2017, following an EIB presentation, an education select committee report recommended the approach. Since the launch, the EIB have been overwhelmed by how many councils from across the UK, including Northern Ireland, have been asked for advice on how to implement the scheme.

This has prompted the EIB to host this Friday’s conference, inviting people from across the country to learn about the “Fair Workload Charter’ and to get educational leaders discussing the issue of workloads. It’s hoped from this conference that a national leader will take up the campaign and push for more schools across the country to adopt the charter.

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Speakers at the conference include Lilian Greenwood MP, who was a member of the parliamentary education select committee when it took evidence last year, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union and Stephen Baker, Deputy Director of the Department for Education School Employment and Teacher Retention Division.

Sally Pearce, Joint Headteacher of Seely Primary School and Sheena Wheatley, NUT secretary will present the fair workload charter. Jeremy Hannay, headteacher at Three Bridges primary school in Southall, West London, nicknamed ‘the happiest school on earth,’ will be speaking about abolishing marking and how it has been successful in his school.  Also speaking will be Jon Richards, UNISON National Secretary for Education and Children’s Services, James Bowen, director of NAHT Edge and Ian McNeilly, senior inspector at Ofsted.

There will also be a discussion session where people can have their say and share ideas on ways to reduce work load and tackle teacher retention.

The EIB’s lead on school improvement, David Anstead, will be leading the conference and believes more needs to be done to alleviate the crisis of teachers quitting the profession, often due to workloads.

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He said: “We started in Nottingham doing this for the benefit of Nottingham schools, to make them a better place to work and thereby make Nottingham stronger in the recruitment market. Since then we have created a local solution for a national problem and we have been getting requests from all over the country. Everyone comes to us and says ‘what can we do’.

“Unless we all do something about teacher workload we will continue to have this recruitment and retention problem. It’s absolutely critical. All the national evidence points to workloads above everything else as being the main reason why we are seeing teachers leave. Hopefully this conference will bring out further solutions, get more to adopt the charter, but it could also lead to a national figure spear-heading this initiative. The Department for Education has been really supportive, but we need national figures and leaders to take a stand and say this needs to happen and take it on.”

Fair Workload Charter

The first of its kind, the Charter has received the support of teaching unions and education watchdog Ofsted. Ofsted has confirmed that the measures contained in the Charter can be consistent with a good and better quality of teaching. The Charter was drawn up with representatives of teaching union officials from UNISON, the National Union of Teachers, the National Association of Head Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

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Schools and academies are being asked to sign up to the charter which pledges to give teachers:

▪      A fair and reasonable workload

▪      High-quality training and professional development opportunities that meet the needs of individual members of staff

▪      An attractive pay and rewards package, at least that of the national agreement for teachers and the local authority pay scale for support staff

The Fair Workload Charter sets out what teachers and other staff can expect from the schools that sign up to participate. This includes adopting schemes such as the ‘five-minute lesson plan’ model and the marking policy clarifying what will and won’t be marked. Schools should also ensure teachers get access to training schemes and that teaching assistants are supported to progress to qualified teacher status where they choose to do so.

More information about the EIB can be found at www.nottinghamschools.org.

 School Workload Conference Nottingham’s Fair Workload Charter

Friday 17 November 2017 10.00am to 15.30

The Belfry Hotel, Nottingham Mellors Way, Nottingham NG8 6PY

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