Teacher Workload Challenge: Your at-a-glance guide to the final recommendations

The three government commissioned review groups on teacher workload released their reports this weekend. Here is what you need to know…

Education secretary Nicky Morgan has accepted the recommendations of three workload review groups into marking, planning and resources, and data management it was announced this weekend.

The news did not stop National Union of Teachers members voting for strikes to combat worsening teacher workload yesterday. But the union’s leadership also welcomed the ideas of how to ease the problem suggested by the review groups, set up following the findings of the Government’s Workload Challenge survey. Here are the groups’ main points:

Planning and Resources

  • Senior leaders should not automatically require the same planning format across the school and should review demands made on teachers in relation to planning.
  • A fully resourced, collaboratively produced, scheme of work should be put in place for all teachers for the start of each term.
  • Teachers should consider the use of externally produced and quality assured resources, such as textbooks or teacher guides, and move away from a bias against them.
  • More staff should engage in collaborative planning instead of spending a great deal of time planning individual lessons.
  • ITT providers should review their demands on trainee teachers and concentrate on how to plan across a sequence of lessons.


  • There is “little robust evidence” to support the use of extensive written comments when marking pupils’ work.
  • Providing written feedback on pupils’ work “has become disproportionately valued by schools and has become unnecessarily burdensome for teachers.”
  • Instead, teachers should use their “professional judgement” to decide how best to mark work. They should “be more active” in using evidence to determine what works best.
  • All marking should be “meaningful, manageable and motivating”.
  • This approach should be made clear to trainee teachers
  • School leaders “must have the confidence to reject decisions that increase burdens for their staff for little dividend”.
  • Some teachers are “wasting time” using “disproportionate” marking practices such as extensive comments that children in an early years class are unable to read.
  • “If teachers are spending more time on marking than the children are on a piece of work then the proportion is wrong and should be changed.”
  • “If your current approach is unmanageable or disproportionate, stop it and adopt an approach that considers exactly what the marking needs to achieve for pupils”
  • The Department for Education should “disseminate” these findings
  • Ofsted should “ensure no particular methods of marking are praised as exemplars”.
  • The accountability system “must encourage good practice rather than stimulate fads”. ​

Data Management

  • People should not be rewarded for ‘gold plating’ – the process of collecting all data ‘just in case’ – as it is both “dangerous” and “unnecessary”
  • Staff should not be asked for or duplicate collection of data collected elsewhere.
  • Schools leaders should conduct a regular audit of in-school data management procedures to ensure they remain manageable for staff
  • Schools should not routinely collect formative assessment data and summative data should not normally be collected more than three times a year per pupil.
  • Teachers need to record data accurately and ensure it is correct first time.


  • should continue to monitor inspection reports to ensure no particular methods of planning or marking are praised as exemplars.
  • ensure training of inspectors emphasises the commitment in the framework.
  • continue to communicate the clarification paragraphs in the inspection framework through updates and other relevant channels.


  • should commit to sufficient lead-in times for changes for which the sector will have to undertake significant planning to implement.
  • should use its influence to disseminate the principles of the report through system leaders.
  • could consider including data management skills in national qualifications for school leaders.
  • shoud bring forward the release of both validated and unvalidated data to as early as possible in the cycle so it is available when decisions are taken to prevent unnecessary duplication by schools.
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