Reducing Workload Conference – An Evidence Based Approach

5 October 2017

In the summer term we held our second research conference, the first out of school in a local hotel and the first as a designated research school. We were lucky to have some great speakers on the bill as well as some fantastic contributions from our own Meols Cop staff.

The theme of the day was ‘reducing workload,’ an issue that is pertinent to all senior leaders and teachers. We hoped to be able to show how an evidence based approach to various aspects of learning & teaching can help to reduce workload. Here at Meols Cop we have worked hard to strip many things back in order to reduce the workload of our staff and whilst there is still more to be done we have made significant gains.

Having spent many years regularly prioritising work over other things I have personally spent the last couple of years being very mindful of how my time out of the school building is spent. The words of Stephen Tierney resonated with me on the day when he talked about his wife referring to herself as the “downstairs widow.” I have been very guilty in the past of being there but not really being there…answering an email on my phone when people are trying to talk to me; having to re-arrange weekend plans because there is marking to be done for Monday which inevitably wipes out Sunday. More recently I have made a concerted effort to say no to things and to prioritise things as best as I can. My emails go off in the holidays and I try my best not to do work for school at the weekends.

At the conference Stuart Kime talked about the issue of teacher self regulation, the ability of teachers to budget their personal resources in the professional context. He went on to talk about the two key characteristics of this, work engagement and work related resilience, concluding that teachers with strong self-regulatory skills demonstrate occupational engagement that is in line with the challenges of teaching and at the same time maintain a healthy distance from work concerns, preserving their personal resources.  This is a challenge for all of us in such a demanding job but it has to be the ultimate goal. To be able to make the distinction between work and home and to get the balance right.

As a senior leader it is vital that we work to try and realise this goal for our staff too. At Meols Cop we have worked hard to try and reduce the workload of our staff and to do away with unnecessary paper exercises and to say no more often to our sometimes overly keen staff who by constantly saying yes and doing more will inevitably burn out.  Over the last couple of years I have had heard a number of speakers say “stop doing so many good things.” We can certainly be guilty of that and our systems this year have tried to strip things back to what really matters and focus only on those things we have evidence are working. We are a long way from a finished product but we are certainly making great strides in the ever prevalent problem of workload.

Posted on 5 October 2017
Posted in: Blog

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