Excessive workload has a huge impact on teachers’ health, safety and wellbeing and undermines teachers’ ability to teach effectively.

Four in every five teachers say that their workload and the stress of the job have increased and half of teachers say that workload has negatively affected their physical and mental health.

Two thirds of teachers tell us that they are seriously considering leaving the profession because of concerns about excessive workload.

Our members are increasingly reporting that schools are taking the ‘opportunity’ to place more workload demands on teachers - using the pandemic to insist that teachers work harder and longer in order to assist pupils to catch up with lost learning.

The NASUWT refuses to accept this view.

We believe that governments and employers cannot stand by and insist that the profession simply soldier on.

Whilst the job of teaching has always been demanding, governments and administrations have a responsibility to intervene and schools have a duty to take action to tackle excessive workload and to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of their staff.

Teachers deserve better.

This NASUWT Workload Checklist seeks to empower members and encourage employers to demonstrate the value they place on teachers through the actions they take to address concerns about workload.

The NASUWT is also making clear to bad employers that we will step in, in the interests of our members, to insist on working conditions that let teachers teach.

Furthermore, we will never accept business as usual if that means that any one of our members is subject to unfair treatment, discrimination and physical and mental injury at work or has to leave the profession because of the damage inflicted on them by failure to tackle excessive workload.

NASUWT Workload Checklist

  1. You cannot be expected to work effectively if your workload is excessive and unmanageable

Employers have a legal duty under health and safety legislation to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of staff.

Excessive workload impacts adversely on the physical and mental health of teachers and where a school/college fails to take appropriate steps to tackle excessive workload pressures, it may be held liable.

Schools should carry out workload impact assessments of their policies and practices in consultation with staff and trade unions.

Schools are also required under Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999 to risk assess all hazards. This includes excessive workload and a general workload/stress risk assessment must be in place in all schools.

Policies and practices that contribute towards excessive and unnecessary workload, including those related to marking, planning, assessment and the use of data, should be reviewed, risk assessed (in consultation with staff and trade unions) and amended as necessary.

  1. You are entitled to appropriate time in the working day to enable you to discharge your professional duties

Schools must provide teachers with appropriate time to discharge their professional duties, including:

  • an agreed directed time calendar which includes the professional activities to be discharged by teachers within 1,265 hours or pro rata for teachers working part time;

  • a maximum of one report to parents each year;

  • all meetings, including those related to performance management/appraisal, included within the school’s directed time calendar;

  • planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time, a minimum 10% of timetabled teaching time, specified on your timetable;

  • leadership and management time for Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) holders and for teachers paid on the Leadership Pay Range;

  • minimum statutory reductions in timetabled teaching time for new teachers as part of their induction programmes.

  1. You must have a reasonable break during the working day

Teachers are entitled to a reasonable break during the day and cannot be directed to perform any duties, such as attend meetings or supervise pupils, during this time.

Teachers should not undertake any supervision of pupils during the lunch break unless they have entered into a separate contract to do so.

  1. You are entitled to a limit on your working hours and to a reasonable work/life balance

Teachers are entitled to reasonable working hours which enable them to have time away from work during the evenings, at weekends and during the holidays.

Teachers should not be expected to attend any meetings outside of school session times which are not within the school’s published directed time calendar.

The school’s directed time calendar must set out all the activities scheduled to take place in the academic year which require the professional contribution of teachers, including classroom teaching, meetings, parental consultation evenings and professional development/in-service training (INSET) days.

Teachers should not be required to respond to or send work-related emails outside of directed time.

  1. You should not be required to undertake pupil supervision or invigilation of exams

Teachers should not be required to undertake invigilation of examinations, statutory assessments (SATs) or mock exams/assessments.

Schools must ensure they have appropriate resources in place, including appropriate support staff, to undertake this activity.

Teachers should not be required to undertake supervision of pupils during the lunch break.

  1. You should not be required to undertake additional responsibilities without additional pay

Teachers cannot be expected to undertake additional responsibilities, e.g. subject leadership, without additional remuneration, e.g. a TLR payment.

Classroom teachers paid on the Upper Pay Range are paid additionally for their experience and contribution to teaching and learning. They cannot be required to undertake duties or responsibilities beyond those expected for the generality of classroom teachers.

Teachers should not undertake additional responsibilities, whether whole-school, phase or subject responsibilities, unless they are to receive a TLR payment or placed on the Leadership Pay Range.

  1. You should not be required to undertake unreasonable or excessive planning, marking or assessment

Teachers must not be required to submit lesson plans to members of the senior leadership team or anyone acting on behalf of the senior leadership team.

Teachers should not be required to provide extensive written comments on every piece of work, given that there is very little evidence that this practice improves pupils’ outcomes in the long run.

Teachers should not be required to submit their formative assessment to routine internal scrutiny and should not be required to submit summative assessment data more than three times per year per pupil.

Teachers should not be expected to undertake additional contingency activities relating to pupil/student qualifications and awards beyond those set out by relevant regulatory bodies.

All activities related to awarding should be workload impact assessed in consultation with the NASUWT.

  1. You should not be expected to undertake routine administrative and clerical tasks, including:
  • keeping and filing records, including records based on data supplied by teachers;

  • transferring manual data about pupils into computerised school management systems;

  • producing analyses of attendance figures or examination results;

  • managing the data in school management systems;

  • collecting money from pupils and parents;

  • investigating a pupil’s absence;

  • bulk photocopying;

  • typing or making word processed versions of manuscript material and producing revisions of such versions;

  • word processing, copying and distributing bulk communications, including standard letters, to parents and pupils;

  • producing class lists on the basis of information provided by teachers;

  • keeping and filing records, including records based on data supplied by teachers;

  • preparing, setting up and taking down classroom displays in accordance with decisions taken by teachers;

  • producing analyses of attendance figures;

  • producing analyses of examination results;

  • collating pupil reports;

  • administration of work experience;

  • administration of public and internal examinations;

  • administration of cover for absent teachers;

  • ordering, setting up and maintaining ICT equipment and software;

  • ordering supplies and equipment;

  • cataloguing, preparing, issuing and maintaining materials and equipment and stocktaking the same;

  • taking verbatim notes or producing formal minutes of meetings;

  • co-ordinating and submitting bids, for funding, school status and the like, using contributions by teachers and others;

  • transferring manual data about pupils not covered by the above into computerised school management systems.

  1. You should not be required to teach, set or mark the work of pupils who are absent

Whilst teachers went the extra mile during the pandemic to provide curriculum access to pupils when schools were closed to the generality of pupils, there should be no expectation placed on teachers to continue to do so.

Schools must put in place additional staff to respond to Covid absence and to enable classroom teachers to focus their time on the majority of pupils who are in class.

  1. You should not be required to cover for absent colleagues

Cover is not an effective use of a teacher’s time at a school.

Other than for teachers who are employed wholly or mainly to cover, including supply teachers, teachers should not routinely be expected to cover for absent colleagues.

Teachers at a school should be expected to cover for absence only in circumstances that are not foreseeable.

Given the ongoing nature of the pandemic, teacher absence as a result of Covid-19 is foreseeable.

In the case of staff absence, schools should secure the services of supply teachers when required.

  1. You must not be subject to bullying or other adverse management practices

Performance management should be a supportive and developmental process for the teacher and should foster professional dialogue between colleagues. It should not be used as a stick with which to beat teachers.

Excessive lesson observations, excessive performance management objectives and the use of appraisal targets all contribute to a hostile environment for classroom teachers - creating anxiety, stress and fear. These adverse management practices have no place in schools.

Where lesson observations are required by statutory processes, such as those for induction, probation or early professional development of new teachers, they should be underpinned by a competent risk assessment.

Classroom observation for the generality of teachers should be limited to no more than three observations per year and a total of no more than three hours.

Learning walks and unannounced drop-ins should not take place without the agreement of the NASUWT.

No more than three objectives should be set for any teacher.

Numerical and pupil data targets must not be used to assess a teacher’s performance.

  1. You should not be required to participate in mock inspection activities

Mock inspection activities, book looks, deep dives, pupil tracking and departmental/subject reviews are all examples of unacceptable management practices which are not a requirement of the inspection framework.

The NASUWT expects these activities to be discontinued.

Together, let’s do something about excessive workload

As a member of the NASUWT, you are not alone in dealing with the problem.

Excessive workload not only affects the wellbeing of individuals, it is also the most cited factor impacting adversely on teacher recruitment and retention.

There is no justification for schools seeking to place increasing demands on teachers. The work of teachers cannot exceed the time that teachers are paid to do the job.

Working together, members are encouraged to take action to insist on working practices that are manageable and to make sure they have the time to do the job.

In many individual settings, NASUWT members are benefiting by working together with their school/college to tackle the problem of excessive workload.

It is important that members’ concerns are taken seriously and addressed by:

  • arranging to meet with other members in the school to talk about the issue in their school/college;

  • raising the issue with your NASUWT School/College Representative or meeting with your NASUWT Local Association;

  • meeting with the headteacher or principal to discuss the problem and to agree solutions;

  • with the help of your NASUWT National Executive Member, agreeing on appropriate action that can be taken to protect members at your school, including collective action to insist that your school/college takes effective action to stop excessive workload and unacceptable working practices.

Support and advice are available from the NASUWT for members. You can seek support and advice from the NASUWT directly if you are concerned that your school/college is not taking appropriate action to support and protect you and other members.

The NASUWT will continue to press all governments and administrations to take action to ensure safe working conditions for all members.

The Valued Worker Scheme, endorsed by the NASUWT and other unions, aims to promote good employment practice in schools and colleges and recognises those employers that are taking effective action to tackle excessive workload and to assure the health, safety and wellbeing of teachers.


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