Exclusive: Ofsted must hold schools accountable for teachers’ wellbeing, workload advisers say

Checks from the inspectorate are needed to tackle teacher workload

Ofsted must hold schools accountable for teachers’ wellbeing to make a real difference to their excessive workload, government advisers have told TES.​

One suggested that teachers could help Ofsted to make these judgements by providing anonymous reviews of schools when they moved jobs.

David Didau, a member of the government commissioned marking workload review group, told TES: “I would propose some sort of national system where, whenever a teacher leaves a job, they leave a write-up on a national database detailing the answers to questions on why they’re leaving.

“So, if there was cause for concern, an inspector could have a look at that information and say that there’s a bit of a pattern.”

Review group recommendations

On Saturday, the three government-appointed review groups on marking, data management, and planning and resources published their recommendations for reducing teacher workload.

Their findings were accepted in full by ministers and given a cautious welcome by teaching unions. But members of the review groups have suggested that really tackling workload would require Ofsted to make a new judgement when it inspects schools.

“One of the levers that I think would make this successful is to have teacher wellbeing as something schools are held accountable for,” Mr Didau, a teaching consultant and blogger, added.

“As a starting point, schools would have to account [to Ofsted] for their turnover. Say 25 members of staff have left – is that all down to random chance or have they all decided to leave because they’ve burned out?”

Unsustainable working conditions

Matthew Stevenson, a member of the data management review group, suggested that Ofsted should introduce a new teacher wellbeing judgement “on a trial basis to gauge the impact it has”.

Last week, Sam Freedman, an adviser to Michael Gove when he was education secretary, reached a similar conclusion. “Ofsted needs to go further and actively penalise schools that create unsustainable working conditions,” the executive director of programmes at Teach First wrote in TES.

But Mr Stevenson, assistant head at Henbury School, a Bristol secondary, also warned that the introduction of a broader workload and wellbeing judgement “could become another hoop that schools have to jump through”.

“There are so many myths around Ofsted – there will be myths about what you have to do as a school to pass the workload test,” he said.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Unnecessary workload is one of the biggest frustrations for teachers. We are doing more than ever to tackle this by publishing the results of the three workload review groups…and accepting all their recommendations.”

This is an edited version of an article in the 1 April edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week’s TES magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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