Inspired by #SLTchat
The #SLTchat discussion on workload on 7th December inspired me to think of ways to embed principles on limiting workload into practice. If you haven’t yet taken part, SLTchat is an excellent Twitter school leadership discussion forum each Sunday 8.00pm – 8.30pm (UK time). Do give it a go – you’ll pick up a wealth of ideas!
Among many others that evening, I had commented that teachers’ work should be directed towards things that make the greatest impact. If we adopt a new working practice it should replace something less effective, not merely add to the existing workload. I had also commented that the current problem was that teachers were having to plan new GCSE and A level courses while teaching current ones, and implement a new curriculum and assessment models while coping with the legacy of the old ones. This is because an externally-imposed timetable places speed of introduction over long-term effectiveness.
Nevertheless, while we may have limited ability to influence what is imposed externally, school leaders can still do our best to ensure our colleagues can devote their time and energy towards the things that make the greatest difference for pupils. One practical change I have initiated recently at St Gregory’s is to include a workload impact analysis in each policy change or new initiative.
An example is shown below. As part of a programme to improve student behaviour and reduce fixed term exclusions, we want to improve communication of learning contracts agreed with students and their parents. This is a modification of an existing procedure, rather than wholesale change, but there are still workload implications:
Workload Implication Analysis
– Clarification of roles will assist workload management.
– Clarity of communication will reduce time spent following up incidents.
Push reporting will reduce need to search records
– Reinstatement meetings will be distributed more equitably among senior leaders.
– Additional details of learning contracts entered into SIMS record by PA to Vice Principal.
– Vice Principal to modify design of SIMS fixed term exclusion report.
In this case, while two members of staff have additional tasks, the overall benefits justify these (and will be experienced by these colleagues as well as others.
We have now adopted Inclusion of a workload impact analysis in all new proposals as a school policy. It’s only a small change, but it’s a practical way of turning an aspiration to manage workload into a concrete reality.