Back in November 2017, education ministers announced they were going to release a policy, along with resources, with the aim of helping schools to reduce their workload. This new government policy was projected to be published in Spring of 2018.
In July 2018, a series of online resources called the ‘workload reduction toolkit’ was published. The Department of Education (DfE) claim this toolkit will help schools to identify and address any workload issues, evaluate what effect these are having and then determine ways to reduce the unnecessary workload. Damian Hinds, UK Education Secretary, explained back in July that “the toolkit provides advice and workshops on the most burdensome tasks, such as pupil feedback and marking…”. Essentially, the toolkit has been designed to provide leaders and teachers of schools in the UK with ready-made resources so they can implement new policies and cut down on any time consuming tasks.
A government survey was published on 21st July where results suggested 73% of leaders and teachers said their school had already reviewed their policies on workload, and actions put in place to address any areas needing improvement. I wonder, why did teachers address and review their workload policies just before the publication of this workload reduction toolkit?
Upon the release of this policy, some were quick to comment on its benefits. But if you’ve read the workload reduction toolkit in its entirety, I think you’ll find it’s not all it’s cut out to be. Philip Britton MBE (Headmaster of Bolton School Boys’ Division & Fellow of the Institute of Physics) quoted “@educationgovuk workload reduction toolkit has good ideas....biggest improvement would be to appreciate rhythm of school life and planning” highlighting the fact the resources were released the day after schools had broken up for the summer holidays. You might have noticed, when you began reading, that there was a delay in the publication of this policy. Government ministers promised the release of this in the Spring, but when it was released in July after schools had finished for the summer, a large majority in the education industry were displeased.
Laura McInerney, an education journalist for SchoolsWeek and The Guardian, highlighted that the toolkit is in fact not of much use to teachers at all. McInerney tweeted a few hours after the policy was published asking “if anyone finds anything useful in this workload toolkit, can you let me know?...it might as well be a sheet of paper that says: ‘plan everything in advance and make good decisions’.” With a strong voice in the education sector, it didn’t take long for McInerney to get a flood of responses to her tweet, all agreeing with the fact that our education ministers had failed to provide any useful resources in line with the policy. Unfortunately, the toolkit seems to create more workload for leaders and teachers, rather than helping to reduce it, as highlighted below by Tom Richmond (Senior Research Fellow for ReformThinkTank, and a former teacher).
“DfE’s new toolkit for reducing teacher workload consists of 7 powerpoints, 14 word docs, a 13-page PDF, 8 case studies, 3 independent reports, a 55-page research project, a poster and a pamphlet. That’s your whole 6-week holiday right there”
It seems that this toolkit has failed to achieve its main goal, and due to the fact it was published once teachers had started their summer break, it’s hardly surprising that industry experts are negative. Furthermore, there are other issues that the industry is facing that don’t seem to be addressed. Philip Britton MBE highlighted in his post that, “the term ended with no clarity on pay and an incomplete safeguarding changes document - not good enough” with a link to a joint union letter, addressed to Damian Hinds regarding teachers’ pay. The letter outlined the issue that teachers had no guidance for the pay award that is due to be operative from September. At a time when schools are under significant financial pressure, maybe the government shouldn’t be focusing on something that teachers already have in place, but instead draw their attention to the issues that are only changeable by the government?
As a teacher, it’s difficult to juggle your time when your to-do-lists are the length of your arm. With the introduction of the toolkit not aiding this either, we have a few Ako suggestions that might help you to manage your time better.
● Practice prioritising. The golden rule of time management is identifying your most important tasks for the day, and making sure these are completed first. Once these are done, you will feel a sense of achievement as you will have completed these tasks. Then you can move onto other things, knowing that you have finished the essential tasks.
● Create a planner. Using a weekly planner that is designed for you, whether it’s colour-coded or uses fun images or motivational quotes. This will give you the space you need to coordinate your tasks in a way that feels personal to you.
● Batch related tasks together. Did you know that if you switch tasks continuously, your brain has to change state at the same rate? Different tasks require different types of brain power, therefore, by constantly switching tasks it is likely you will lose focus and time. Therefore, by grouping similar tasks together, you are allowing your mind to focus and you won’t lose time by re-adjusting your mind, therefore managing your time more effectively.
What do you think, as a teacher, would be most beneficial to you in your day-to-day work life?
It’s vital that teachers are able to juggle their workload, due to the fact their priorities are constantly changing and encompass lots of different things such as: lesson planning, marking, developing student reports, and so much more. So, what if there was a platform that allowed you, as a teacher, to prioritise your tasks and manage your workload?
We are pleased to introduce myAko, a platform designed with the vital tools to allow you to complete your tasks of the day. An all-in-one and dynamic solution, myAko has been designed to allow you to manage your workload and priorities, in one place, with one set of data. As a teacher, you will have the ability to manage your training and CPD, write development plans and manage your to-do-list in line with your priorities. Here at myAko, we understand you may struggle to complete your work during working hours, but our mission is to help you. With an element of myAko dedicated to time management, along with a comprehensive calendar function, you will be able to manage your time more effectively.
Each element of myAko has been developed with your needs in mind, to address your daily struggles and creating a platform to solve your issues in a way that is time efficient. Launching in September, myAko will introduce you to a world of tools to save you time and focus, allowing you to focus on the important stuff in your day-to-day routine.
Find out more here about how myAko can help you to prioritise and manage your time more effectively, giving you time back for the important stuff.