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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Anna Davis

Teachers’ workload to be cut by five hours a week amid warnings of exodus

Schools are creaking under the strain of an “unsustainable churn of teachers”, teachers leaders have warned.

It comes as the government launched a taskforce aimed at easing the workload of under-pressure teachers and ultimately cutting their workload by five hours a week.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, which will be part of the taskforce, said the heavy workload is a major factor in why teachers leave the profession.

But he added: “We remain sceptical about whether there is the will in government to take some of the steps that are required to produce systemic change. High levels of workload are driven by the underfunding of the education system, which leaves teachers and leaders doing more work with fewer resources, and an accountability system of inspections and performance tables which is excessive and punitive.”

He added: “In order to genuinely tackle workload there will need to be some readiness on the part of the government to accept and take action to address these problems.”

The launch of the government taskforce comes after a series of strikes, which ended when teachers in England accepted a 6.5 per cent pay rise. Members of the new body include representatives from the four main teaching unions, as well as teachers, academics and experts.

The first meeting will take place later this week.

Mr Barton said: “Change must happen…The whole education system is creaking under the strain of this unsustainable churn of teachers and leaders with a clear and present danger to education standards and provision.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "Our dispute with government this year was about more than money. It was also about intolerable workload and inspection pressures."

He said the taskforce was an "important step", but that it needed to result in "tangible change".

Schools minister Nick Gibb said: "We’ve seen rising schools standards over the last decade and that wouldn’t be possible without the work of great teachers.

"We do, however, continue to hear the concerns of teachers and school leaders about workload, which is why we want to build on the past successes in reducing workloads and continue to remove additional burdens, so that teachers can focus on what they do best: teach."

The Department for Education said that school leaders would also receive support to implement more flexible working practices.

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