Pioneering Charter aims to reduce teacher workload

Schools in Nottingham are being encouraged to sign up to a pioneering new Charter that aims to reduce pressure on teachers in the city.

The first of its kind, the Fair Workload Charter has been devised by Nottingham City Education Improvement Board (EIB) in response to a growing shortage of teachers.

Many teachers are leaving the profession across the country – blaming long hours and increasing workloads. In Nottingham City, recruiting and retaining teachers is seen as vital in order to drive up standards in education. It was identified as a key priority of the EIB, which is made up of experts from schools, academies, universities, colleges and Nottingham City Council.

Launched at a special EIB conference of head teachers in Nottingham on 16 September, the Charter has received the support of teaching unions and education watchdog Ofsted.

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
  • competitive and attractive pay and rewards packages
  • prohibiting the use of ‘probationary period’ contracts in schools

Launching the Charter, Education Improvement Board chair Sir David Greenway – who is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham – said: “We carried out a consultation to help determine our 10-year strategy to raise standards in education. It was important for us to hear the views of parents, teachers and the wider school community. One of the messages that came through from the consultation was about the need to tackle the workload, pressure and stress placed upon our teachers.

“We have developed the Charter because we want to ensure that in Nottingham we protect and nurture our teachers. We would urge head teachers – and their school governing bodies – to sign up to the Fair Workload Charter to make sure our teachers can focus on providing the best possible education for children and young people in our city.”

National working groups were set up in 2015 bythe then Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to explore how workload could be reduced. So far they have found that changes should be made to expectations on the marking of schoolwork as well as time spent on producing detailed lesson plans; but no definitive Government initiative has been produced on this.

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.

Ofsted have confirmed that the measures contained in the Charter can be consistent with a good and better quality of teaching.

John Dyson, EIB Board member and Head Teacher at Westbury School in Nottingham, said: “The Education Improvement Board has high expectations of schools in Nottingham. If every school is to be judged as Good or better by Ofsted, the city must have not only strong leadership but also ensure teachers have time to focus on doing what they do best: teaching pupils to the highest possible standard.

“As a Board, it’s impossible for us not to recognise workload as a major factor affecting the recruitment and retention of teachers, not just in Nottingham, but nationwide. This Charter offers a practical solution to show our teachers how much we value and respect the job that they do.”

The Charter was drawn up with representatives of teaching union officials from UNISON, the National Union of Teachers, the National Association of Head Teachers, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

Wayne Norrie, Chief Executive of Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust, which runs Nottingham Academy and Nottingham Girls’ Academy, said: “The Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust recognises the national issue of workload pressure on teachers and sees the EIB’s Fair Workload Charter as a positive step in the right direction to tackling this. We are interested in further exploring how this can be implemented in our academies.”

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

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