Teachers' hours and workload to be cut to tackle staff shortage

9 March 2018, 22:18

Teachers' hours and workload are set to be cut in a bid to tackle staff shortages in schools.

In his first major speech, Education Secretary Damian Hinds will promise that the Government will "strip away" pointless tasks to allow teachers to "focus on what actually matters".

Mr Hinds, who took over at the Department for Education in January, will accept that rising pupil numbers are making it difficult for schools to recruit and retain staff.

His remarks come amid continuing concerns about teacher shortages, particularly in maths and physics.

Mr Hinds will say: "Too many of our teachers and our school leaders are working too long hours - and on non-teaching tasks that are not helping children to learn.

"We need to get back to the essence of successful teaching - strip away the workload that doesn't add value and give teachers the time and the space to focus on what actually matters."

Secondary schools across England have seen a recent increase in pupil numbers, prompted by a spike in the birth rate in the early 2000s, which is fuelling demand for teachers.

In a bid to boost teacher numbers, Mr Hinds is expected to say there will be no new tests or exams, or changes to the national curriculum, beyond those already announced, before 2022.

He will also admit that the current system for holding schools to account can "feel very high stakes for school leaders", which filters down to staff.

Mr Hinds will make his speech on Saturday to the Association of School and College Leaders' (ASCL) at their annual conference in Birmingham.

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman is also expected to say the watchdog will look at how it can help to reduce teacher workload.

She will tell the conference: "When I see newly qualified teachers brimming with passion to change young lives for the better, I think it an utter travesty that so many end up losing their early enthusiasm, because of the pressures of the job. Especially when so many of those pressures are entirely unnecessary.

"Because that's what endless data cuts, triple marking, 10-page lesson plans, and, worst of all, Mocksteds are: a distraction from the core purpose of education. And a costly distraction at that."

Labour's shadow schools minister, Mike Kane, said the Conservatives had been promising to solve teachers' "workload crisis for years" but had "missed their own recruitment targets five years in a row, and teachers are leaving the profession in record numbers".