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Teachers (Paperwork)

Volume 541: debated on Monday 27 February 2012

The Government are committed to reducing the amount of paperwork undertaken by teachers, heads and governors. We have removed the lengthy self-evaluation form and the financial management standard in schools; introduced a streamlined inspection framework; removed unnecessary duties and regulations in the Education Act 2011; cut the volume of guidance issued to schools by more than half; and made it clear that neither the Department nor Ofsted expects teachers to produce written lesson plans for every lesson. We are reviewing all requirements on schools so that they can focus on raising standards, rather than on unnecessary administrative tasks.

I thank my hon. Friend for updating the House on the progress that he is making on the amount of guidance. Will he reassure me that we no longer send teachers and governors thousands of pages of bureaucratic guidance, which at one point was equivalent to reading “War and Peace” from cover to cover three times over?

And significantly less interesting. My hon. Friend is right that we have swept away pages of guidance. We have reduced the admissions code from 160 pages to 50, the assessment guidance from 220 pages to 30, the attendance guidance from 220 pages to 30, and so on. We have reduced the health and safety guidance from 150 pages to eight, and have taken out important guidance on how to do a headcount, why a headcount is important and why schools should ensure that the school minibus is properly maintained.

Many teachers complain about the amount of time they have to spend completing lesson plans. Will the Minister confirm that neither he nor Ofsted require plans for every lesson?

I am happy to give my hon. Friend that assurance. Ofsted does not require written lesson plans for every lesson. Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s chief inspector, has made that absolutely clear.

One of the most demanding tasks that teachers do outside the classroom is marking books, which allows them to monitor the progress of pupils. The applications for free schools that I have seen have an average of 25 pupils per class. If we value teachers in all sections of our education system, should they not all be teaching classes of 25 pupils? If the Government are serious about reducing the work load of teachers, they should take that on board.

I would encourage schools that want to have smaller class sizes and more control over how they are run to adopt academy status.

When the Secretary of State told the Select Committee on Education recently that teachers have to work only 32.5 hours per week, even if they work full time, did he really believe it or was he just trying to cause offence?

I am aware that many teachers do enormous amounts of unpaid overtime. That is a tribute to the professionalism of the teachers in our schools today. It is important that that overtime is not spent filling in voluminous forms or reading huge lever arch files of guidance.