dfe video jpg

As a result of our campaign, the government and Ofsted have produced a video about some of the activity around marking, data collection and lesson planning that Ofsted don’t want to see, and that your head should not ask you for.

Watch the video, and then share it with your colleagues.

Read the hard-hitting DFE workload guidance

Share the flyer and poster

Read the NEU advice

Make sure it’s acted upon in your school.


Teacher workload is at unprecedented levels. The most recent DfE teacher workload survey showed teachers working on average 54.4 hours a week. We are losing far too many good teachers. An exhausted, dispirited teacher is not what children or parents want or deserve.

The NUT’s campaign to make the Government lift the pressures on teachers and schools is beginning to secure some outcomes. Far too little is still being done, however, to reform the high stakes accountability system that is the root cause of excessive workload.

While the NEU continues to press for decisive Government action to reduce the demands on teachers, it’s important that teachers themselves also take the steps available to them to bring about improvements at school level, particularly by acting collectively.

Take action on workload with our step to step guide.

NEU survey on teachers workload

A staggering 81% of teachers said they have considered leaving teaching in the last year because of the pressures of workload, according to a survey of over 8,000 teachers launched at the NEU annual conferences this year.

Read the report here.

Workload will continue to be a priority campaign for the NEU in 2018.

Please make sure you have completed our workload survey and ask all your members to do the same.

And check out these documents to help you challenge workload in your school

Tacking Workload Together

Ofsted mythbusters

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The government is about to announce its findings on teacher workload and we expect there to be very little change from last year. It is clear their policies have failed to address the concerns of teachers and implement any serious change. So a continuing priority for us this term is working with members in schools to win improvements in wokload.

OFSTED have issued guidance to on such things as Mocksteds, photographic evidence and British values. If your school is persisting with the imposition of such practices despite the advice from OFSTED, please contact

screen-shot-2017-03-02-at-15-34-37You can download advice from the DFE commissioned Independent Teacher Workload Review group on marking, data management and planning from the NUT website. Please use these documents in discussions with members and Senior Leadership to address excessive workload.

screen-shot-2017-01-12-at-15-48-09You will also want to share the guidance of National Director of


OFSTED, Sean Harford, who has written on workload for the Teacher Magazine.  In the article he encourages school to use Ofsted mythbusters and other materials to change culture and practice around issues such as planning, marking and use of data. Do call a meeting to discuss this and see if you can identify some areas for change in your school.

You can read the article here: ofsted_workload



Please let us know how you get on. If schools refuse to tackle excessive workload, the NEU has policy of authorising industrial action in support of that aim.

In our survey of ELTA reps, 82% said that workload was too high. This is in line with teachers all over the UK who say that workload is making the job untenable.

Even the Government’s own workload survey showed that teachers are working unsustainable hours with primary teachers working, on average, 60 hours a week and secondary teachers, 55 hours. The findings of this survey were only made public after strike action and sustained lobbying of the government by the national union, local divisions and individual members.

Please share this information and these reports with members and ensure your Senior Leadership is complying with DfE guidance.

Should you feel that further action is required, please contact us. The NEU will support members in taking action in schools to challenge excessive workload.

These alone will not be enough. The government has still failed to implement any meaningful steps to reduce workload and ignores the high numbers of teachers leaving, and the falling numbers of trained teachers entering, the profession. The government’s statements about workload ignore the central point about reforming the high stakes system of accountability which is driving unnecessary workload for teachers and school leaders.

The NUT has called for the following action:

  • Planning in school must be given sufficient time, supported as soon as possible by a refreshed DfE protocol which applies across education agencies and a full range of policy areas
  • No school must face bigger workload issues because of its everyday circumstances – for example, small and/or rural primary schools can face significant challenges in giving teachers time for multi-subject planning where there may be no-one else with whom to collaborate
  • The DfE must guard against any attempts to promote marking above other forms of feedback and assessment: guidance from Government and Ofsted should only be that teachers should determine the most effective form of feedback for the circumstances
  • Alternative forms of feedback must also be properly considered to ensure that a correction to the undesirable practice of deep/dialogic marking does not result in its replacement by a time-consuming but ineffective new fad
  • Data at all levels must have a strategy behind it and clear benefit for learning: a data dividend
  • There must be clarity and consistency in the data demands made in accountability by both Ofsted and the Regional Schools Commissioners

The NUT has also published an Eight Steps programme showing the Government how to reduce excessive teacher workload quickly, at little or no cost, in England and Wales.


Teachers should not be covering lessons unless it is an emergency or if covering lessons has been negotiated as part of their contract.

For more details see this document Tower Hamlets model cover policy May 2009

What have we won so far?

As a result of pressure from the NUT here have been a number of significant developments regarding teacher workload and working-time.

  • Ofsted have published a set of clarifications about their expectations when visiting schools
  • Nicky Morgan has written to headteachers saying they should use the guidance to reduce workload
  • The government also announced further recommendations to schools arising from the Workload Challenge.

These developments represent a significant shift in the attitude of the government to teacher workload and give NUT members a great opportunity to bring about some positive changes in their school. Becoming the agency of change can be very empowering for NUT members.

What else can we do?

A strategy for school groups

The NUT wants to encourage school groups to meet and discuss these developments and to decide collectively if there are any issues that they would like to be addressed in their school.

You can find more details and statements from Ofsted and the Department for Education (DfE) which cover key areas at and these can be used as a framework you’re your discussion.

All of these issues are covered by the NUT campaign to reduce workload and our Action Short of Strike Action – therefore the NUT will support members up to and including paid strike action in seeking to win changes in their school. Union members have done this successfully in many schools already.

How to do this

The NUT uses the following rubric when developing a campaign, which can be used at school level:

  • Is the issue DEEPLY felt? (i.e. do members feel very strongly about it?)
  • Is the issue WIDELY felt? (i.e do the majority of members feel strongly about it?)
  • Can we identify a RESOLUTION? (i.e do members know what they would like to see as a resolution?)
  • Do we know WHO can solve the problem? (i.e who are who going to ask to resolve this issue?)

Step by step

  1. Members meeting
  • Call a meeting for members – try to find a time when most people can make it.
  • Make sure members know the reason for the meeting and that you will be looking for outcomes.
  • Go through the statements from Ofsted.
  • Identify which, if any, of these are most widely and deeply felt.
  • Identify what you want to ask for and how you are going to do this.
  • You could collectively write a letter to the headteacher, or ask to meet her/him, or both.
  1. Meeting with your head
  • After you have had your NEU meeting, arrange to meet your headteacher.
  • See if you can take another person with you.
  • Be prepared and make sure that the head understands that you are representing the views of members.
  • Report on the discussion and put the case for change to the headteacher.
  • Your head may not want to make an immediate decision so should ask them to think about what you have said and agree a time to meet again.
  1. Involving members
  • Once you have had a response from your head, you will need to report to members.
  • At the next meeting you will need to decide if you are happy with any response you have received.
  • If you are not happy you will need to decide what to do next.
  • If the matter is still being considered, how can you influence that discussion?
  • If your request has been refused you may want to contact your local NUT secretary and seek advice on pursuing the next steps under the Union’s Action Short of Strike Action.
  • At this point you will need to determine how strongly members feel about this and if they would be willing to strike to bring about the change they identified earlier.
  • At all times make sure that you are talking with members and representing their views.
  • Don’t try to do this all on your own, try to involve other NUT members in taking on some of the work that will be needed

Download a copy of this guidance here Step_by_Step

You can rely both on our ASOS instructions and on firm support from your Union.

Two suggested campaigns:
Challenge unnecessary marking requirements

If marking policy is a problem in your workplace, ask your NUT rep to call a meeting to discuss it. Have a look at the NUT guidance on reasonable marking arrangements. Take your proposed changes to the head teacher/principal. If the issue remains unresolved, NUT school and college groups can refuse to comply with marking policies which generate excessive and unnecessary workload.

Challenge excessive working time

Sixth Form GuidanceMany teachers are working way beyond their their directed time obligations. Teachers can only be directed to work for 1265 hours and yet we know that many of our members are working up to 2000 hours or more, often on unnecessary tasks.

Your school should publish an annual calendar which outlines the allocation of directed time hours. No teacher should undertake directed tasks outside of this. Ask to see a directed time calendar and check you are not being directed to work outside of this.

ELTA members have won real improvements in recent years by challenging unfair working practices such as a reduction of meetings, changes to marking policies and the use of excessive monitoring practices.

This guide summarises the entitlements of teachers under the STPCD, their rights under regulation and legislation and the NUT’s policies and advice on workload and working hours. Teachers who are employed by a local authority or by the governing body of a foundation, or voluntary aided school are covered by STPCD conditions. Many teachers working in Academies will be too, though this is not automatic in all cases

Click here to download summary guidance on teachers working time and duties

Click here to download detailed guidance on Teachers Working Time and Duties

Click here to download the Sixth Form Colleges Teachers’ workload and working time guidance.

Read more about the NUT’s campaign on workload

Check out the NUT Edufacts