Damian Hinds: My year-long battle to reduce your workload

In case I needed reminding, I quickly learned that everyone has an opinion on education and rightly so, given its importance not only to society, but for many of us more personally as parents or as one of the million-plus people who work in the sector. A large part of my job is therefore to listen and take on board what people think, their hopes, their worries, their desire to make the best choices they can for themselves and their children.What has shone out, both in the visits I take on a regular basis, and in my many conversations with all the groups involved, is the total commitment and dedication of those who work in the sector, from early years teachers helping children develop communication skills, to trainers working with adults who need new skills for an employment landscape that can change at bewildering speed.

Our teachers have been working long hours for many years, and also work longer hours than their European counterparts, but more than half of their time is not actually spent teaching. I think teachers work too many hours. I want our teachers spending far fewer hours on energy-sapping administrative tasks so they can devote their energies to what they do best – that is, what they do at the front of the classroom.

We have launched a workload reduction toolkit – an online resource providing practical advice and examples to help staff in schools take action to reduce workload. I am delighted that the materials have collectively been downloaded more than 80,000 times, and I hope many of you are already finding it helpful.

Workload has been cited as one of the main reasons for teachers leaving the profession over a number of years. It is a complex problem that didn’t blow up overnight, and I don’t expect us to solve it in one go. Schools’ working patterns are entrenched, but so is my determination to tackle the issue.