Are the demands of planning unrealistic in your school?
The chair of Independent Teacher Workload Review Group on planning and teaching resources, Kathryn Greenhalgh, writes in the forward to the Review Group report, Eliminating Unnecessary Workload around planning and teaching resources:
“I hope the reports and their recommendations resonate with the teaching profession and they will be used to give school leaders and teachers the confidence to make strategic decisions about what needs to stop and what needs to be done differently.
Teachers should not be spending their time on bureaucracy that does not add value. Teachers’ time should be protected and used to make a difference.”
The thrust of the report is to promote change and a more constructive use of teachers’ time. It aims to stop teachers collecting “proxy evidence” for the “accountability paper trail” and creating plans in a set format that are no more than a “box-ticking exercise”.
If that sounds like your school you need to read this report.
The report identifies the problem as:
“issues such as requirements around the level of detail in plans (they )submitted, having to produce annotated seating plans for each lesson and justifying decisions for these, having to change and revisit plans during the course of the week as lessons developed, and having tight deadlines for submitting weekly plans.”
This report gives teachers the chance to challenge a planning regime which creates unnecessary workload and does nothing for teaching and learning.
The report gives five principles for planning and highlights the fact that Ofsted does not need schools to provide individual lesson plans to inspectors, or historical lesson plans.
It identifies the challenge for schools:
- If the curriculum is the central driving force of teaching, then time spent planning should not be wasted time. Lesson plans should be given the proportionate status they merit, and no more, to lessen teacher workload.
The recommendations place an expectation on School Leaders and SLT to organise the school so that teachers can plan without being burdened by an unnecessary workload. For teachers, planning is seen very much as a collaborative process. The recommendations are:
For Government and its agencies:
- DfE and its agencies should commit to sufficient lead-in times for changes for which the sector will have to undertake significant planning to implement. This includes releasing relevant materials in good time.
- DfE should review the DfE protocol to ensure it is fit for purpose, and takes full regard of the workload implications of any change.
- DfE should commit to using its influence to disseminate the principles and messages of this report through system leaders.
- Ofsted should continue to communicate the clarification paragraphs in the inspection framework through updates and other relevant channels.
- Ofsted should continue to monitor inspection reports to ensure no particular methods of planning are praised as exemplars and ensure training of inspectors emphasises the commitment in the framework.
For school leaders:
- SLT should ensure there is ongoing work to develop a shared understanding of effective teaching to inform planning, underpinned by effective continuous professional development.
- SLT should not automatically require the same planning format across the school.
- SLT should review demands made on teachers in relation to planning to ensure that minimum requirements to be effective are made. Where more intensive plans are needed for pedagogical reasons, a review date is set.
- Senior and middle leaders should ensure, as a default expectation that a fully resourced, collaboratively produced, scheme of work is in place for all teachers for the start of each term.
- Senior and middle leaders should make clear who will be planning new schemes of work and associated resources, what time they will have available to do so, and how this will be made available to all staff in a timely fashion.
- SLT should ensure that the highest quality resources are available, valuing professionally produced resources as much as those created in-house.
- SLT should consider aggregating PPA into units of time which allow for substantial planning.
- SLT should work with middle and subject leaders to identify alternative ways to evidence ‘effective teaching and planning’, emphasising teacher development.
- Subject and phase leaders should lead discussions on quality assurance with SLT/governors to help them understand where a subject- or phase-specific approach may be most appropriate – and why the volume of paper plans may be an inadequate proxy.
- Teachers should engage in collaborative planning to develop their skills and knowledge, to share their expertise, and to benefit from the expertise of their peers.
- Teachers should consider the use of externally produced and quality assured resources, such as textbooks or teacher guides.
- ITT providers should review their demands on trainee teachers and concentrate on the purpose of planning and how to plan across a sequence of lessons.
- Subject associations and school networks and chains should review their offer to teachers on evidence of effective practice, research and resources.
- Publishers should continue to produce better quality textbooks, focussed on the central, enduring knowledge of a subject or curriculum area, which teachers can then supplement with more up-to-date examples or case studies.
If your school is one of those with a leadership that fails to meet the requirements set out in the recommendations in the report, then here is your opportunity to challenge them.
North Beds NASUWT is here to support you. Get in touch if you need us.
In addition to this report, we have the NASUWT Action Short of Strike Action Instructions – Phase 4.
Instruction 12 is very specific:
“Instruction 12: Members are instructed not to submit lesson plans to members of the senior management team or anyone acting on behalf of the senior management team.”
and “The current Ofsted Inspection Handbook requires only that inspectors assess the degree to which ‘leaders and managers ensure that the curriculum is effectively planned and taught’ (p.43).
Heads and Senior leaders now have the opportunity to show that they are prepared to act. They need to show that they:
- have given full consideration to the reports;
- will act on the advice in the Ofsted Clarification Document;
- are prepared to challenge and review current practice, in consultation with teaching staff
- will introduce any necessary changes, using this report as a starting point.
It’s time for teachers to take the initiative and North Beds NASUWT is here to support you, just get in touch.
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