Introduction

Let’s begin by ditching the clichés and management speak. Teaching is the priority. The reason for opening the school gate every morning.

But, when the school gate closes every evening, the extra responsibilities of the role often spill into precious evenings and weekends. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

Pressures from tasks such as lesson planning, marking, pupil assessment, school development and administration add to the workload, which impact staff wellbeing and raise the inevitable question ‘is this really what I got into teaching to do?’

Some tasks come with the territory but this 10 Day Project has been designed to provide you with the opportunity to take a step back, challenge current practices and remind you of some proven best practice strategies to win back more Child-Time for you and your staff.

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More Child-Time actions

What can I do today?

No doubt your team already knows you are committed to reducing their workload but with all the changes schools have had to manage in the last few months, it’s likely new tasks have been added to everyone’s to do list on a regular basis.

Without realising it, one task is piled on top of another and soon everyone is stretched to the limit. So, if you have not already done a review of what tasks are currently eating up staff time, now is the moment to start making change happen.

Contact staff and ask them to do the following:

  • Write down 6 administrative tasks that they do every day
  • Rank them high to low in terms of time and effort to complete and their impact on teaching and learning
  • Ask them to comment on what they think would be the consequence if they stopped doing it and how this would impact teaching and learning

You can then use these responses to form the basis of your activity to reduce workload next term.

To help out we have drafted the email so you can get started on this task today, no matter how busy you are.

[The email]

Dear team,

It has been a hard term. One of the hardest yet and I am mindful of just how much you have worked together to help ensure students get a good standard of learning no matter what the circumstances have been. Thank you.

I want to make sure that, as we start looking ahead to the spring term, we put some strategies in place to help reduce workload so we have more time to devote to ourselves and our pupils. Therefore, I am asking each of you to write out which tasks are taking you the most amount of time so we can start to identify the priorities and improve or remove tasks across the school.

With that in mind, I would be grateful if you could complete the following table and return it back to me by [add date in]. This will be the first step in the process of creating more child time in the school day.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Kind regards,

xxxxxx.

Write down six administrative tasks that eat up your time

TaskTime to complete

(Low, Med, High)

Impact on teaching and learning

(Low, Med, High)

Comment

What do you think would be the consequence if you stopped doing this task?

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

What shall I work on next term?

Every action has a consequence. The challenge for any school leader is to ensure that any action that is taking a lot of time reaps high teaching and learning rewards.

However, as time goes by and teams evolve, processes naturally change and you may be left with a range of workflows that have not been challenged for a while.

How many tasks are conducted for the following reasons:

  • ‘Because we have always done it that way’
  • ‘Because Ofsted needs it’
  • ‘Because parents expect it’

The aim of any headteacher is to get to the point where many of these reasons are eliminated.

Instead you want the answer to be ‘Because it helps the children.’

This is the focus of your more Child-Time actions for next term.

  • Once you have collected the feedback from teachers, establish a workshop date
  • Before the workshop, rank the tasks or even plot them on a graph if you have time
  • Structure the workshop to review feedback for common themes and home in on the high effort, low impact tasks
  • The focus of the workshop is to conclude with which tasks you keep, tweak or abandon
  • Agree a timeline for change
Workload Graph

If high workload, low impact tasks cannot be tweaked to secure more Child-Time it’s time to be bold and consider abandoning them.

What shall I be working on for the rest of the year?

As a leader, you know that the most important aspect of identifying workload issues is to act on them. The school leadership team must keep everyone focused on the timeframes for change and the outcomes.

The prize is more time for children.

It is also important to remember that as you continue to deal with the fallout of the pandemic, appraising workload and taking action will need to be addressed regularly to make a positive difference to children.

In addition, the impact of any change needs to be assessed so that staff are aware of the value of the changes made.

Your key actions for the rest of the year are therefore as follows:

  • Act on the outcomes of your workload workshop
  • Continue to encourage your staff to bring their own specific workload issues directly to you
  • Publish details of the areas where workload savings have been made
  • Fix a date for another workload group session in the summer term and early in the next academic year

Expected results

The time you spend understanding how and where the pressure points are for teachers in your school will always be time well spent. It will help you to cut out unnecessary administration and other tasks that are preventing teachers from focussing on what they do best – boosting pupils’ learning and achievement.

Lower workloads unlock more Child-Time and this is ultimately what teachers need more of to make a real difference.

If you would like to understand how Juniper can support you further in this area, please provide your details below and we will be in contact.

Muriel Hayman

Muriel Hayman

Muriel is an experienced school business partner leading an established team that supports schools and MAT’s with their bespoke HR, Finance, Payroll, Governance and Internal Scrutiny needs. Muriel is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants with over 15 years experience in managing diverse solution oriented teams that give clients exactly what they need.