fallback

This DfE research report released on Saturday can be found here.

Main messages for us:

The majority of early career teachers said that there was not any specific coverage of workload management during their training. There was also a general perception that teacher training did not provide a realistic impression of day-to-day teaching workload. Most of those with a mentor had appreciated the regular contact with another member of staff, although some recognised that their mentors were also very busy or that the mentor could not address levels of workload. However, where this relationship worked well, there were clear benefits to new entrants into the profession. This included learning how to:
• Plan, particularly mid-term.
• Adapt resources.
• Locate pre-existing resources effectively.
• Learn from mistakes and develop reflective practice.

Support for Early Career Teachers
Early career teachers were asked whether their Initial Teacher Training (ITT) had included any preparation for managing workload. The training routes varied and included PGCE and Teach First. The majority said that there was not any specific coverage of workload management during their training. Two (of 28) noted seminars about work/life balance, or training sessions focused on marking and prioritising (it is not known the type of training route they took). There was a general perception that ITT did not provide a realistic impression of day-to-day teaching.
‘It would have been helpful [to have workload preparation within ITT] as we go into our first year and it is nothing like your training, so it is just a bit of a shock. When in placement, you don’t really see what goes on behind the scenes, such as the meetings and meeting with parents. So, if there was more involvement with everyday teaching that might help’. (Full-time early
career primary teacher)
When asked what they would have liked to have had included in ITT, interviewees suggested:
• Time management strategies.
• Identifying and managing priorities.
• Good practice examples shared from teachers at different schools to those attended for placement.
During their first years of teaching, some early career teachers had received specific types of support from their schools:
• Six mentioned having a reduced timetable in the first year, with protected PPA and NQT time ranging from half to full days.
• Twelve reported having mentoring during their NQT year, for example from the Head of Department.
Most of those with a mentor had appreciated the regular contact with another member of staff, although some recognised that their mentors were also very busy or that the mentor could not address levels of workload. However, where this relationship worked well, there were clear benefits to new entrants into the profession. This included learning how to:
• Plan, particularly mid-term.
• Adapt resources.
• Locate pre-existing resources effectively.
• Learn from mistakes and develop reflective practice.

Where they had found the mentoring effective, three early career teachers had since been mentors themselves and a fourth school had developed new resources to support incoming NQTs.
Early career teachers were asked to consider whether there had been any changes in the way that they managed or perceived their workload since they began teaching.
Overall, these participants reported that their workload levels had not changed, except in instances where they had taken on additional responsibilities, such as promotion to Head of Department. Instead they believed that their ability to prioritise tasks or draw on previous planning/delivery had improved.
‘By having more experience you manage your priorities better – like [knowing that] maths and English books are the most important for scrutiny by SLT and the school policy, so those are always up-to-date’. (Full-time early career primary teacher)
Two early career teachers (one secondary and one primary) both highlighted that ‘staying with the same year group’ or key stage in the early years of teaching helps individuals to build confidence, knowledge and resources.
Some of the newer recruits into teaching reported feeling ‘judged’ by peers with more experience, for example if their priorities or approaches to workload differed.
Furthermore, some talked about reducing their own expectations of themselves, for example by learning not to pressurise themselves into delivering ‘perfect’ lessons, or to ‘draw a line’ on the amount of self-assessment or self-reflection that they did. However, there was a sense among early career teachers that this negatively affected their professional development.
‘I realised I had to [reduce reflection of practice] to get everything done. I probably would have left teaching if I didn’t. I am still an acceptable teacher, but I know I could be better if I had the time’. (Full-time early career science teacher in a secondary school)
Nonetheless, it was perceived that ‘time’ and ‘experience’ were key in helping them to learn how to manage their workload (and their own expectations of it) in the early years of being a teacher.
One headteacher had noted that early career teachers were ‘consistently’ leaving the profession in the second or third year following NQT, due to the shock of the change in workload between their Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) year and a full-time teaching timetable. To help with this, one headteacher was looking at the affordability of their school retaining second year teachers on the equivalent of an NQT timetable (rather than full-teaching commitments), in recognition that these recruits were still learning.
An early career teacher also suggested that expectations needed to be lower among SLTs, particularly in terms of additional responsibilities and extra-curricular participation  such as playground duty and afterschool clubs. They felt that this would enable new teachers to focus more time on preparation and development.

Leave a Comment