Guidance

School workload reduction toolkit

Practical resources for school leaders and teachers to help reduce workload, produced by school leaders, teachers and other sector experts together with DfE.

Applies to England and Northern Ireland

How to use the toolkit

The resources in this toolkit have been produced by school leaders, teachers and other sector experts in conjunction with the Department for Education (DfE), and have been tested with a range of schools across England.

You can use these resources to:

  • identify workload issues in your school
  • address workload issues in your school (such as feedback and marking)
  • evaluate the impact of workload reduction measures

You can adapt these resources to fit your school context. They can help you start to reduce workload, or can complement what you’re already doing to reduce workload. They were designed for schools, but can also be used in colleges and other settings.

Some of the resources explain how schools have developed and maintained a culture of openness and trust which has removed traditional monitoring approaches such as classroom observations. You can use other resources as they are, perhaps as a basis for a training session, while the example policies can be adapted for your own context.

We recommend that you undertake a review of workload in your school as a starting point. The zip folder identify workload issues in your school contains a simple-to-use survey to stimulate discussion, which can be included in your school improvement cycle.

You may wish to conduct a regular review, involving all staff. This will help you to identify the areas you need to prioritise. Schools which took part in a fully evaluated project using the toolkit made significant improvements in workload and wellbeing after focussing  on the issues they identified in their survey. In many cases, pupil outcomes also improved.

In the Wellbeing and workload folder you will find example wellbeing policies. These can be read alongside the Education staff wellbeing charter, which is a declaration of support and set of commitments to the wellbeing and mental health of everyone working in education.

You can find more information about how schools and colleges can sign up to the charter.

You can also find out more about using EdTech to reduce workload through the Ed Tech Demonstrator Programme.

If you are a school leader, you can use this toolkit with teachers and staff in their directed time, for example:

  • as part of their INSET
  • in a staff or leadership team meeting
  • in a network session with other schools
  • as part of school improvement planning

Identify workload issues in your school

You can start by identifying what’s causing the biggest workload issues, so you know what to prioritise. You may wish to conduct a regular review, involving all staff, to work alongside your school improvement review cycle.

For resources to help identify your school workload issues, download the zip file which contains:

  • an example of a staff workload survey
  • a practical tool – using software to conduct a workload survey (includes a link to an online survey you can duplicate to use in your school)
  • a workshop presentation – for staff to discuss the survey findings
  • a structured conversation template
  • an impact graph template
  • a workshop presentation – how to use an impact graph to identify workload issues
  • a practical example – using an INSET day to focus on ‘what gets in the way of teaching’

You can run a workshop as a whole school activity or in teams to discuss your survey outcomes and actions.

Choose the resources you wish to use and adapt them for your school context. The folder contains options of tools to use so you don’t have to use them all.

Wellbeing and workload

For resources to help with wellbeing and workload, download the zip file which contains examples of:

  • establishing a school wellbeing committee
  • a workload and wellbeing action plan
  • how to establish a school workload group
  • a programme of work to tackle workload and improve wellbeing
  • a whole school approach to wellbeing
  • an academy trust workload agreement
  • 2 examples of staff wellbeing policies
  • an example staff wellbeing statement

You can choose the resources that you wish to use and adapt them for your school context.

Data management

For resources to help reduce data management workload, download the zip file which contains:

  • a workshop presentation – with facilitator notes
  • a summary sheet to accompany the workshop
  • an example of a data collection audit for use in the workshop

You can run the workshop as a whole school activity or in teams, and adapt the example for use in your school.

Feedback and marking

For resources to help reduce feedback and marking workload, download the zip file which contains:

  • a workshop presentation – with facilitator notes
  • a summary sheet to accompany the workshop
  • an example of an impact matrix to review and change current marking practice
  • an impact graph template
  • a workshop presentation – how to use an impact graph to identify workload issues
  • 4 examples of feedback policies in primary and secondary schools
  • an example marking reflection exercise

You can run the workshop as a school activity or in teams, and adapt the examples for use in your school.

Curriculum planning and resources

For resources to help reduce curriculum planning workload, download the zip file which contains:

  • a workshop presentation on reviewing and streamlining lesson planning – with facilitator notes
  • a summary sheet to accompany the workshop
  • an impact graph template
  • a workshop presentation – how to use an impact graph to identify workload issues
  • an example of how to create a sustainable workload in a school
  • an example protocol for lesson observations
  • an example of how to support staff development through feedback

You can run the workshop as a whole school activity or in teams. You can choose the resources you wish to use and adapt them for your school context.

Behaviour management

For resources to help reduce behaviour management workload, download the zip file which contains:

  • a workshop presentation – with facilitator notes
  • a summary sheet to accompany the workshop
  • a discussion template
  • an example of a secondary school behaviour policy
  • an example of a secondary school central referral system for pupil behaviour

You can run the workshop as a whole school activity or in teams. and use the discussion template to help. You can adapt the examples for use in your school.

Communications

For resources to help reduce communications workload, download the zip file which contains:

  • a workshop presentation – with facilitator notes
  • a summary sheet to accompany the workshop
  • an impact graph template
  • a workshop presentation – how to use an impact graph to identify workload issues
  • an example of a secondary school communications policy for parental engagement
  • an example of a secondary school email protocol
  • an example protocol for parents’ evenings
  • an example of how to streamline internal school communication with an email protocol

You can run the workshop as a whole school activity or in teams. You can choose the resources you want to use and adapt them for your school context.

Plan your yearly calendar

For resources to plan your yearly calendar, download the zip file which contains:

  • a calendar planning workshop presentation – with facilitator notes
  • a summary sheet to accompany the workshop

You can use the workshop with staff to help you plan your yearly calendar and avoid pinch points.

Support for governing boards and trustees

For resources to help governing boards and trustees reduce workload in their school, download the zip file which contains:

  • a workshop presentation – with facilitator notes
  • a summary sheet to accompany the workshop
  • a workshop discussion template
  • a practical example of a primary school governing board looking at reducing school workload

You can run the workshop during board meetings, as a whole school activity or in teams, using the discussion template to help, and adapt the example for use in your school.

Evaluate the impact

For resources to help evaluate the impact of workload reduction measures, download the zip file which contains:

  • a checklist – to help evaluate the impact of your actions to reduce workload
  • a template – to monitor action and impact

Using EdTech to reduce workload

The EdTech Demonstrator Programme provides free, peer-led support and advice on how to make the best use of technology, with a focus on:

  • reducing unnecessary teacher workload
  • helping schools and colleges to manage their resources effectively

There are over 40 EdTech Demonstrators across England who can provide between 6 and 30 hours of bespoke support until July 2022, to meet the educational technology requirements of any publicly-funded school or college in England.

Background to the toolkit

This toolkit is part of DfE’s action to support schools to reduce workload and address the causes of excessive workload at a national level. It builds on the principles of:

DfE has also consulted and engaged with organisations to help reduce workload in schools, including:

  • Ofsted
  • the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL)
  • Community, Education and Early Years (formerly Voice the Union)
  • the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)
  • NASUWT, The Teachers’ Union
  • the National Education Union (NEU)

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank all the staff in the schools who contributed their time to write and share practical examples and case studies. The following people also helped to co-ordinate contributions in 2022: 

  • Sarah Botchway, Associate Headteacher, Vauxhall Primary school    
  • Dame Mo Brennan, CEO, Matrix Academy Trust  
  • Sue Bull, Flying High TSA  
  • Abby Deeks, Vice Principal, West Lakes Academy   
  • Paul Goodman, Deputy CEO, Flying High TSA  
  • Alison Gormally, Headteacher, Golborne High School 
  • Lynn James, Executive Principal, Outwood Grange Academies Trust
  • Ryan Kelsall, Deputy CEO, Eastern Learning Alliance Trust  
  • Jan Linsley, Teaching School Manager, Yorkshire Inclusive TSA
  • David Lowbridge-Ellis, Deputy Headteacher, Barr Beacon School  
  • Jon Mason, NLE/Teaching School Head, Inspiring Futures Partnership Trust
  • Sarah McGill, Teaching School Co-ordinator, Morris Teaching School Alliance
  • Victoria Morris, Vice Principal, Chepping View Primary Academy
  • Diane Reynard, Principal, East SILC 
  • Jill Sunter, English & Media Teacher, West Lakes Academy
  • Liz Whetham MBE, Executive Headteacher, Westminster Church of England Primary Academy
  • Alison Wilshaw, Director of Education, Bedfordshire School Trust      
  • The Teaching School Hub Council and its Chair, Richard Gill, CEO, The Arthur Terry Learning Partnership

We would also like to acknowledge those who were involved in developing and testing the original toolkit:

  • Lesley Birch
  • Amanda Bennett
  • Helen Brown
  • Michael Green
  • Amanda Jackson
  • Roger Pope CBE
  • Melanie Shute
  • Dave Smith
  • Liz Whetham MBE

Contact us

We regularly review and update these resources, taking account of feedback.

Please tell us:

  • how you are using the toolkit
  • how you are managing workload
  • about any innovative and effective workload solutions you would like to see in the toolkit

Teacher wellbeing, workload and impact on schools team

Published 21 July 2018
Last updated 10 March 2022 + show all updates
  1. We have added the following resources to the toolkit: Communications - an example of how to streamline internal school communication with an email protocol and an example protocol for parents' evenings. Curriculum planning and resources - an example of how to create a sustainable workload in a school, an example of how to support staff development through feedback and an example protocol for lesson observations. Feedback and marking - an example marking reflection exercise and an example marking approach as part of a feedback policy. Wellbeing and workload - Examples of 2 staff wellbeing policies and an example staff wellbeing statement.

  2. Improved layout of page, including creating new sections and adding zip files, based on user needs, feedback and research.

  3. Included guidance on 'Behaviour management', 'Support for governing boards and trustees', 'Ways to reduce workload in your schools' and 'Supporting early career teachers', as well as a case study on Witton Park Academy showing the impact of technology on teacher workload.

  4. First published.