The Pressure is On to Address Teachers’ Workload

Why do your teachers work long hours?
Do you know how many hours your teachers work on average per week?

A survey commissioned by the DfE [1] indicates that teachers are working an average of nearly 54 hours a week and senior leaders working around 62 hours a week.  Some must work much longer hours to give such an average.  The report on the survey indicates that there are three main causes: marking, planning and data management.

Head Teachers and Governors Can Address Those Issues

The issue of long working hours is not a recent one but it is accentuated by the shortage of teachers.   The first question above starts with a ‘why?’  because Head Teachers and Governors are in a position to address such explained in earlier articles on this blog, for example, ‘Pressure on the School v Pressure on the Teacher’. 

The evidence for taking action is growing as are the examples of and ideas for effective action.  The Sources section below cites some articles and further reading.

Governors have a responsibility to support the Head Teacher in tackling the issue rather than content themselves with the view that the problem is beyond them.   New Heads and those parachuted in to a troubled school often place themselves under great pressure to improve results in a few months – that pressure is passed on knowingly or unknowingly to the teaching staff who often face a raft of new initiatives with the result that individuals become tired and anxious and do not think as clearly as they would without such pressures.

Governors have a valuable role in helping the Head and SLT to challenge themselves to weed out any unnecessary demands and administrative tasks that detract from teaching.

Planning for Whose Benefit?

One would think that it was for the benefit of pupils/students but it can be the opposite.  Heads sometimes use it as a means of monitoring their staff but that can lead to time consuming paper plans that do not necessarily translate into improvements in learning outcomes.   A key article in the Guardian [2] gives some different perspectives on planning and a lighter touch approach.

Instances will occur in which teachers need to improve their skills but focusing on paper evidence is more likely to aggravate the problem especially if the individuals are feeling undue pressure.  Cut through the paper plans and help them to see how they can deliver more effective learning in their class situations.  That produces multiple benefits; a more confident teacher; improved learning outcomes; a less stressed individual and a Head/SLT who will benefit from a teacher’s performance which has been turned around.

Peculiar Motivation for School Governors and Heads

Can Governors afford to delay tacking this type of issue?   For many, their motivation would be to produce better learning outcomes. If that is not sufficient then maybe the following will be encouragement to act:

  • Governing Bodies have a legal duty to monitor working hours and to take action if those are unreasonable – see more at Teachers’ Working Hours – Duties of Governors and Head Teachers, 
  • If undue stress is caused to a teacher, that could lead to an expensive unfair dismissal case for the school.  Recently, the compensation rates for injury to feelings, have been increased.  Those are additional to the dismissal award and could add up to £42,000 or more to a claim.  More detail can be seen in the Key HR Facts section of our Personnel Advice website.

Governors and Head Teachers can minimise the chances of finding themselves a party to an expensive personal injury claim for stress or an unfair dismissal claim for undue pressure on a teacher.  How?  Take the positive outcomes road as noted above.

The DfE is also partly serious about the workload and amount of working hours.  It has added advice in the latest Governors’ Handbook and Ofsted has also updated its guidance in order to minimise additional work caused to schools.

[1]  Teacher Workload Survey 2016, Research brief, DfE, February 2017.
[2]  Tips to help schools reduce teacher workload by Ruth Stokes, 19 July 2017, The Guardian, Teachers Network.

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Holidays – How Clear Are Your School’s Rules about Absence for Holidays?

During the last few weeks of term, there is the risk that parents may be tempted to take a family holiday because it is affordable compared to the peak Summer holidays period.  Although the Supreme Court has ruled on this, Head Teachers and Governors need to understand the reasoning of the Court and check that their school’s policy is clear.

Uncertainty Created by the Decisions of Lower Courts

When deciding whether a school/local authority had the right to  seek a fine on ra parent for taking their child out of school in term time, the Supreme Court noted, that using the test of ‘sufficiently frequently’ was too uncertain for parents to know whether they were in the right or wrong.  Instead, the Court held that the key was whether the parents had complied with the school policy.

Review the Clarity of Your School’s Absence/Holiday Policy

In the light of the above, you should check that your policy is clear and will be interpreted by parents that absence for holidays duing term time is a breach of the school’s rules and expectations of parents regarding the child’s or student’s attendance.

A reminder each year in January to parents/guaridans may be advisable as that is often when parents start to think about their main holiday.

Some schools may be in communities in which there are a high number of, for example, parents who are hospital doctors.  They are often obliged to take their holidays at the end of their contract and before their next role.  In such cases, the Head and Governors may wish to have some flexibility regarding holidays but that will need careful thought. 

The Court’s Core Reasoning re Attendance at School

The Supreme Court noted that education statutes had regard to the importance of a child’s regular attendance for the sake of his/her education.   A fine and possibly a conviction could arise but a conviction can be avoided if the penalty is paid on time. That may have influenced the decision of the Court to take this firm stance.  

The Balancing Skills of the Head Teacher and Governors

As noted above, the Head Teacher should ensure that:

  • the school’s policy is clear on the issue of taking holidays in school term times;
  • the consistency of any exceptions permitted.

In addition, the school will need to consider its policy on:

  • issuing penalty notices for breaches of its rules/policy.  Currently, the law permits a penalty notice of £60 to be issued.  If that is not paid within 21 days, the penalty increases to £120;
  • requesting prosecution of a parent who breaches the school rules/policy.

The reality is that some parents will feel that the benefit of a family holiday in term time with the cost of a fine is worthwhile compared to the cost of a holiday in the Summer holidays.

Are There Other Solutions?

i)  Should local authorities and academies etc. be given greater freedom to set staggered holiday times across the country to encourage holiday firms to lower their prices?

ii)  In June and July, many schools arrange school trips/holidays for educational purposes.  Should those periods be approved instead as flexiible school holiday weeks in which families can take a holiday  Schools could help to ensure that such holidays with parents are educational by providing ideas to help children/students observe and discover during their holiday experiences – that does not necessarily mean having to visit expensive ‘tourist attractions’.

iii)  Should tourist boards become more pro-active in advertising affordable holiday packages, during school holidays, as it is alleged that guest houses etc. struggle due to the competitive holiday market.

The above will raise logistical issues for schools but those could be reduced if relaxations were made on a county wide basis.  On the other hand, perhaps the taking of holidays in  term time is not a big issue for schools. Do you have a view on this issue – if so leave a polite comment below.


Isle of Wight Council v Platt [2017] UKSC 28

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Distracting but Necessary Issues to Address Shortly

In common with many organisations, Head Teachers and Governors have to grapple with peripheral issues that do not further the educational aims of the school but have to be dealt with as they are statutory requirements and could lead to adverse publicity for the school.

Peripheral Issues Arising

The following matters will need to be considered in the coming months as the implementation date for some issues is April 2017.

  1. Gender Pay Reporting **
  2. Data protection  – new European standard and regulations
  3. Employment of apprentices and the Apprenticeship Levy **
  4. Changes to Immigration rules and increased costs for employers
  5. Increases in the National Minimum Wage rates
  6. Mental health issues at work
  7. School policies that have been overtaken by recent cases and regulations.

The items with ** will apply to organisations with 250 or more staff but do not heave a sigh or relief just yet.   Because many schools are now within a larger employer such as a Multi-Academy Trust, the reporting needs will affect you although your employer will have to carry out the compliance work.

Tips About Complying and Gaining Extra Value

To help head teachers and school governors, I shall be publishing during the next two months:

  • Articles and tips on the above;
  • References to previous articles that provide insight into the pitfalls in some issues;
  • Simple checks you can make to ensure that you have not breached the requirements inadvertently.

Receive Notification of New Articles and Tips

To ensure you do not miss the articles, you can be notified when they are published.  Just click on the link for ‘receive notifications’ in the left hand column of this page.

© 2017 HR Management Dimensions

The Headsup HR blog is published by HR Management Dimensions Ltd.under the editorial lead of Jim Harrington.

Developing Your Senior Leadership Team Members and the Governing Body

Occasionally, we shall publish special articles, as part of a series, on developing your senior leadership team to be more confident and skilled in carrying out the many duties of an employer besides the learning and attainment of the children/students. This is to help:

  • Head Teachers and Governors to ensure that certain aspects of school life are being managed appropriately;
  • Those members of the SLT who aspire to become head teachers;
  • Parents and staff know that the school is under sound management.

Often the temptation is to delegate those aspects to the administrator or business manager but the SLT and Governors need to be confident that these responsibilities are implemented effectively.

The articles will summarise the key points to check.  Ensure that you receive an alert to its publication and new articles on this blog by clicking on the link in the left hand column to receive notifications by e-mail.

© 2016 HR Management Dimensions

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Managing An Additional School – Rewarding the Head and Other Affected Teachers *

What options does a Governing Body have to reward their Head Teacher for leading an additional school? This is the second in our series of articles about the changes introduced in the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document 2014 (STPCD).

The options differ according to whether the change is a:

  • Permanent arrangement;
  • Temporary arrangement e.g. to evaluate whether a permanent federation or collaboration would be beneficial for both schools;
  • Secondment to a school causing concern.

Maintained schools are obliged to apply the terms of STPCD 2014 but academies have the freedom to create their own reward packages which could differ from the points below.

Leading an Additional School on a Permanent Basis

If the second or additional school is a permanent responsibility then the Governors should recalculate the Individual School Range to take account of the total number of pupils at both (all) schools. The method of calculation is set out in sections 6 and 7 of the STPCD 2014.

That should enable the Governors to set a pay range that reflects the demands of the Head Teacher’s role. See our earlier article about the freedom that Governors have to set the actual pay range. {Editor’s note – link to be updated}

Leading an Additional School for a Temporary period

This may arise when the Governing Body is considering a future federation or formal collaboration arrangement with a second or additional school. The Head may be asked to lead the second school for a fixed period so that the Governors, of both schools, can evaluate whether such an arrangement would be beneficial on a permanent basis.

In a temporary situation, the ISR is not changed as the Governing Body may award a temporary allowance to the Head Teacher of up to 25% of the Head’s annual salary.

The payment of the allowance is subject to several conditions:

  • Responsibility for the additional school must not have been taken into account in any salary or allowance increase previously;
  • The 25% cap does not have to take into account specific allowances paid to the Head Teacher – a residential allowance or an allowance for relocation or housing which relate solely to the personal circumstances of the Head.
  • The overall salary and allowances of the head teacher must not exceed 25% above the maximum of the head teacher group unless there are exceptional circumstances. If the Governing Body believe that this limit does not provide an appropriate reward for the Head’s role, the Governors are required to obtain external, independent advice before producing a business case for the full Governing Body to approve.

Governors should note that:

  • The temporary arrangement should not be for more than two years and
  • If the arrangement proves unsatisfactory or expire, neither Governing Body will be required to protect the ‘higher’ allowance/salary as the salary safeguarding provisions do not apply in this type of temporary situation.

Two years can pass rapidly so the Governing Body should consider establishing progress indicators and reviews during the temporary period. Those will help with the final decision as to whether to become a federation etc. and also help to ensure that sufficient time is allowed for the formalities to be concluded by the end of the temporary period.

Rewarding Other Teachers if a Second or Additional School is Taken On

When a Head takes on the the leadership of another school, that may require other teachers to take on additional responsibilities for the same temporary period. Depending on the staffing structure, it may be preferable to adjust the Deputy Head Teacher’s pay range temporarily to take account of the increased responsibilities in the absence of the headteacher.

In some cases, teachers may be required to perform additional obligations. Those teachers may be paid an allowance on a temporary basis but that will depend on the particular circumstances. Such allowances should only be provided to teaching posts which are affected significantly by the change. Section 11 of the Management Notes states, “This will be based on any additional responsibilities attached to the post (not the teacher), which should be recorded. An increase in remuneration should only be agreed where the post accrues extra responsibilities as a result of the head teacher’s enlarged role; it is not automatic.”

Such an allowance for a teacher would not attract salary safeguarding when the temporary period finishes.

Temporary Secondment of Head Teacher to a School Causing Concern

This is the third scenario and the STPCD is gradually reflecting the various situations that arise in the leadership arrangements of schools.

The Head Teacher may be rewarded by the payment of a lump sum. That is subject to an overall cap as the head’s total salary and allowances must not exceed 25% of the salary maximum. Note that this is defined as 25% of the head teacher’s pay group of the school to which the secondment is made.

Payment of the lump sum is conditional on the sum being awarded to recognise, “sustained high quality of performance throughout the secondments” (Section 24.1 of the STPCD).

A variation to the terms of employment of the Head should be produced and set out what will happen at the end of the temporary period i.e the head will return to his former substantive role and also deal with the other issues that often arise in secondments.

© 2014 HR Management Dimensions

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Real Performance Appraisal – A Work in Progress


Performance management skills will be become exposed this year as head teachers are required to link the results of appraisals to pay. Performance related pay will overshadow performance development as the link to pay will lead to more emphasis on a defensive collection of paper evidence.

The skills of nurturing improved and sustained performance when the wind is blowing against an individual as well as behind him is a key requirement.

Professionals Assess Themselves

Professionals share a common trait – they are often quick to realize when their performance has tailed off and they can understand what they are supposed to achieve.  However, they often struggle to know what they must do differently to improve.

So what do they do?  Some will work even more hours but often with little effect except for putting themselves under more stress.  Others may well become more disappointed in themselves or even depressed.  Many will feel that they are failing but find it difficult to voice what help they need to work in a different way as they are focused on the wrong issues.

Key questions for school leaders are:

  • Will Governors and the SLT accept their responsibility to help staff to improve their performance?
  • Are they focused on the advantages of real performance appraisal and improvement?
  • Have they revised their own skills to serve the demands of the new approach?

In this article we start to explore real performance appraisal – real because we start from the point that many head teachers are nervous of the new appraisal and pay links and have adopted a defensive approach in their pay policies and outlook on appraisal.

Effective performance for a professional is about 70% own input and 30% organisational input so the responsibility is very much with the individual. However, when an individual is working hard but not delivering, the appraisal process should become a source of encouragement and diagnosis but not defensiveness.


The key need is to work with the individual to identify what is not being translated into effective classroom practice.  For example, planning and documentation may be fine so what is preventing those plans being demonstrated in teaching practice?  The individual will need help via a colleague to understand what is not happening or is happening but at the wrong time or inconsistently.

Help is required via a series of constructive observations, not as a rating observation, but as a mirror (or better a video) of what occurs compared to what the individual thinks is occurring.  Help the individual to explore what he/she needs to do differently and how that should be achieved.  Yes, professionals will need such help occasionally as the downward spiral of working hard but being ineffective can prevent the person seeing what needs to be unpicked and changed.

Sustained performance is required so continue with the observations periodically to help the individual to see when they are beginning to regress into the old habit. This time though it will be the individual who can rapidly identify what is going astray in their own practice but he/she is likely to need a few pointers as to how to avoid those issues.

Observer/Reflector/Adviser – skills in short supply

Does the school have a few gifted individuals who demonstrate those three skills and who can work with colleagues to turn performance around and regain an effective and inspired teacher?  A common mistake is to assume those on the SLT have that required combination of skills.

If you do not have such skills available in house, would it be beneficial to identify within your pyramid or locality a few who do and can be released occasionally for such help?  The cost would be justified as you only have to consider the hours of time that are absorbed in dealing with under performance or even exit options.

Effective Leadership in Action

An effective leader will find the person with the right skills and chemistry to ensure the helping relationship is productive. The results will be:

  • a teacher who is once more effective and inspiring for the pupils/students;
  • evidence to colleagues that the school’s appraisal/performance management approach is about focusing on effective performance with help when necessary.

An effective leader allows individuals to take risks to improve performance and to experiment with new ways of doing things. Such leaders free themselves from a defensive, overly cautious approach to appraisal and performance related pay.

Thinking of appraisal as an annual cycle is notorious as a downward spiral and it becomes a chore in the last few months of the cycle. Effective leaders have the knack of intervening at the appropriate time. By developing a regular discipline of reflection on performance in practice compared to what was planned will help individuals, the SLT and Governing Body to see where the trends in performance are going and to head off any significant issues. Such reflections do not have to be overly formal but will give individuals insights into their performance and ways of improving.

Finally read your pay policy again and check that you have not adopted a defensive approach to linking performance and pay. This may be a new venture for you but allow yourself to take risks and watch colleagues and students flourish as they feel able to experiment and to call for real appraisal help when needed.

Make sure that you are alerted to new articles on this blog by clicking on the link in the left hand column of this page. You will then be able to receive alerts by e-mail of new articles and updates.

© 2013 HR Management Dimensions

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Strategic Strings to Pull for School Governors

Can school leaders do more to raise the satisfaction of staff?  Like many organisations, schools face challenges which in their case are to:

  • Raise the learning outcomes for students;
  • Continuously improve the performance of staff;
  • Balance the budget.

An additional issue appears to be the low morale amongst teachers because of the constant changes in curriculum, the pressure of observations, pupil progress targets and the perception that teachers are not valued by parents,  the community nor the DfE at times.

Raising the Satisfaction of Teachers

Can school leaders do more to raise the satisfaction of staff? Yes, they can as there are certain levers they can use for that purpose. This is not a new problem as an insight was given in 2000 by the Head of OFSTED who, “argued that the morale of the teaching profession is affected by the quality of teaching provided within it.”  In The Guardian (4 September 2000) , he wrote, ‘The only way the morale of the profession is going to improve is when teachers teach better. Because when teachers teach better, children will learn more, and when children learn more their parents will respect teachers more. And when teachers have got the respect of parents in the community they are going to feel better about themselves.” (1)

This reciprocal reinforcement of satisfaction between ‘customers’ and staff is a well known effect in service organisations. Studies have shown that customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction are intertwined – each feed of the other and the level of staff satisfaction increases with consequent tangible improvements in staff performance and outcomes. In a service company that effect is seen in additional sales to customers and customer loyalty.  Schools are not profit organisations but the quote above is strikingly similar to the effects of the Service Profit Chain which was published in the Harvard Business Review (2). This was based on a series of premises that as an employee meets the needs of a customer, the satisfaction of the latter results in a reciprocal satisfaction for the employee. Although titled the Service Profit Chain, the premises are translatable to a teaching environment. As the learning of students improves and positive outcomes are commented upon by pupils, parents, colleagues as well as evidence from data, the professional satisfaction of a teacher increases and that reinforces the teacher’s commitment to develop students/pupils.

Strategic Mapping by Governors and Leadership Team

The term engagement is used frequently today as though it is the solution to organisational problems. It is important and requires the investment of management time and trust but engagement alone is not enough. Governors have to help the head teacher and leadership team to see the wider picture involved in raising the performance of the school and satisfying the stakeholders, staff, students and parents. A strategic map is required so that all can see what is to be achieved, when, and as important in a service organisation, how. This is even more important now that performance objectives and progression are linked to pay. Without a strategic map, the risk is that performance objectives will not be joined up so as to deliver the overall strategy.

Aids to Strategic Mapping

There are various strategic models for educational organisations but many omit key aspects of the strategic journey. One method is to adapt the balanced scorecard to the school environment. The real purpose of the balanced scorecard aid is in translating your strategy/vision for the school into clear strategic objectives that will deliver your vision and strategic goals. The name balanced scorecard is derived from looking at the way forward from four aspects. To achieve our vision:

a. How should we appear to our customers i.e. students and parents/guardians? (customer focus)
b. How will we maintain our ability to change and improve? (learning and growth)
c. How do we need to change and improve our support processes? (internal/support processes)
d. How should we appear to our stakeholders – LA or Trust, DfE and other agencies? (financial/service outcomes)

Key objectives are then set under each of those areas, as appropriate, so that the inter-dependencies can be seen.

For example under b, one objective may be to increase the understanding and use by teaching staff of pupil achievement data in order to raise learning outcomes. Governors also need to understand what the data trends are indicating and to encourage the switching of funds accordingly to improve weak areas. Focus on this area may also highlight that you need to improve your internal processes so that such data can be accessed easily and promptly. Hence, another objective under internal processes may be of that nature. In this way the cause and effect network can be seen more clearly.

Returning for a moment to the theme of teacher satisfaction and student development, objectives under b and a should also lead to increased satisfaction of teaching staff and also of pupils.

As you will gather, a strategic map still needs original thought as to what the vision should be and what are the key strategic goals based on that.  Aids such as the balanced scorecard (3) may help to ensure the success of your strategy by looking at the goals from key aspects that often underpin the service needs within a school.  However, it is better to keep the process simple to start with to serve the school’s needs.

(1)  Quoted from HEADING TOWARDS EXCELLENCE by (Sir) John R Rowling, Trentham Books 2002.
(2) The Service Profit Chain, James L. Heskett, W. Earl Sasser, Leonard A. Schlesinger, Harvard Business Review
(3) Kaplan, Robert S.; Norton, David P. (Jan-Feb) [1992], “The Balanced Scorecard – Measures that Drive Performance”, Harvard Business Review

If you would like help in using strategic mapping to raise performance, you can contact the author via this link or by phone (see the footer for contact details).

© 2013 HR Management Dimensions

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Academies Act 2010 – TUPE Issues for the LA and Governors

Now that the Academies Act has been passed, schools wishing to convert in the next few months will need to take action to ensure that they receive key information, indemnities and warranties.  Although the current employer is required to consult employees and provide information to the school, it is easy to overlook the various types of information you will need to avoid unwelcome surprises.

A starting point from an earlier article is expanded below.

Insist on Full Disclosure

The Governing Body should request full information on:

  • The current contractual terms of employment of each individual.
  • Any one off agreements/terms that come into affect later such as individual ‘incentive’ payments
  • Any discretionary payments or terms made to an individual – important to be sure that they are only discretionary and not binding in future
  • Any special leave granted and whether paid or unpaid in the 12 months prior to conversion. This should include parental leave and similar so that you do not duplicate leave in the future.
  • Any contractual policies applying in general or to particular groups of staff which are likely to have financial consequences e.g special leave, PPA time over the 10% national term for teachers.
  • List of staff who are suspended or absent for any reason especially long term such as ill-health, maternity leave on the date of conversion with the known or expected return or review dates.

Actual or Potential Liabilities

In addition, the Governing Body should request details of any actual or potential liabilities that will pass on transfer of the staff such as:

  • Personal injury claims by current or former staff that have not been concluded
  • Grievances or disputes regarding an individual’s terms of employment
  • Employment Tribunal claims including discrimination, bullying or harassment
  • County Court claims such as significant breach of contract claims
  • Civil claims such as harassment
  • Pending or actual police investigations or prosecutions
  • Health and safety improvement notices etc and copies of any reports in the last three years (if not in the school’s possession)

The LA may also wish to seek warranties and indemnities to ensure that any potential legal claims or financial liabilities have been declared and investigated by the school sufficiently. That will be important in the light of the surplus and deficit provisions in the Act.

Those type of information issues will form the bulk of the work to ensure that you have a clear picture of each individual’s employment terms and record going forward. However, there is a sting in the tail of the TUPE Regulations of which you need to be aware.

Detrimental changes to an individual’s contractual terms after transfer will be in breach of the regulations and potentially give rise to claims against the school. There are limited exceptions for example, economic and technical organisational reasons. Schools should not think that the transfer of staff offers a new canvas on which to paint a new scenario of terms of employment as unfortunately the schools will need to take the TUPE route of addressing transfers.

The above is a brief overview. Are you interested in being guided through the issues and process? If so, contact us via our website   We apply the many dimensions of people management and organisational capability to help you to produce commercially and service focused solutions to human resource management issues.

© 2010 HR Management Dimensions

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