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Damian Hinds to cut workload to tackle teacher shortage

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Recruitment targets for teaching have been missed for five years in a row

The education secretary will promise to cut teachers’ workload in an attempt to resolve a recruitment crisis in England’s schools.

Damian Hinds will tell head teachers that there will be no more new changes to primary tests, GCSEs or A-levels.

Mr Hinds will say long hours and red tape are among the “biggest threats” to recruiting and retaining staff.

Head teachers’ leader Geoff Barton says he supports efforts to cut the “bureaucratic burden” on teachers.

In his first speech to heads and teachers since becoming education secretary, Mr Hinds will address as a “top priority” concerns about a shortage of teachers.

For five successive years, recruitment targets for teaching have been missed and schools have complained of the expense and disruption of relying on temporary staff or having to use teachers who are not specialists in the subjects they are teaching.

Schools are spending £835m per year on supply agencies, according to the most recent government figures.

Freeze on exam changes

The education secretary will tell day two of the annual conference of the ASCL head teachers’ union on Saturday: “With rising pupil numbers, I recognise that recruitment and retention is difficult for schools.

“And, clearly, one of the biggest threats to retention, and also to recruitment, is workload.

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Damian Hinds will tell head teachers he will work with them on cutting bureaucracy

“Too many of our teachers and our school leaders are working too long hours – and on non-teaching tasks that are not helping children to learn.”

Mr Hinds will promise head teachers no more changes to the curriculum or to testing and exams in primary or secondary school until the end of this Parliament.

But existing reforms that are already in the pipeline, such as the roll-out of changes to GCSEs, will go ahead.

Teacher ‘burnout’

Mr Hinds will speak at the conference in Birmingham alongside the Ofsted chief, Amanda Spielman, and they will highlight the need to avoid any unnecessary bureaucracy around inspections.

Ms Spielman will say that Ofsted wants to help to reduce workload.

Improvements in school will not be sustained “if the people, who make them run so well, are burning out and leaving the profession”, Ms Spielman will tell the head teachers’ conference.

She will warn against “entirely unnecessary” extra work such as rehearsals for inspections, so-called “mocksteds”.

Mr Barton, ASCL’s general secretary, will support the push to cut workload.

The heads’ union has warned repeatedly of the recruitment problems facing schools, particularly in maths and science.

The heads’ leader will warn that the ways into teaching have become confusingly complicated and need to be simplified.

But Mr Barton will also say that head teachers should work differently to reduce workload in their own schools, such as cutting needless meetings or administration.

“In the longer term, we’re the generation who needs to redefine what it is to be a teacher in the 21st Century, to make sure we don’t become the Luddite profession, doing things in the way we’ve always done them.”

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