Session 332: Cutting the red tape

Thursday 8th December 2016

Following on from the #UKEdChat Twitter poll, the online discussion focused on ways to cut the bureaucracy and red-tape that making working in education so frustrating. The session set out to explore aspects of the mundane side of bureaucracy in schools, whilst discussing ideas and strategies to help manage these tasks. In particular, the session asked:

  1. What bureaucratic or mundane tasks frustrate you within education?
  2. Which of these tasks take up too much of your time?
  3. Do the leaders of your school help reduce or add to the tasks that are needed to be done?
  4. Have you reduced the time taken to complete various tasks? If so, how did you achieve it?
  5. What could policy-makers do to help teachers reduce the amount of red-tape placed upon teachers?
  6. What bureaucratic tasks do you actually think are worthwhile and worth time invested?

Summary

Much of this session felt like therapy, with participants off loading their frustrations with the layers of red tape which swirl around our schools and tangle the finely build mechanisms of our teaching practices. The first question asked about these frustrations directly. Many tweeted about paper trails for the sake of it, others mentioned accountability regimes which get in the way of real teaching and learning. Generally, there was a sense that much of the paper work completed by teachers is never looked at twice. The next question followed these thoughts up by asking about how much time these tasks take. ‘Too much’ was, of course, the answer, but teachers sometimes spend hours a day on such tasks.

The next question asked whether the leadership team help reduce or add to ‘red tape’ tasks. The responses were fascinating, and if true, the management don’t seem to be managing the flow of the red tape. But perhaps this is unfair as, while teachers see the the tasks that flow to them, they do not see the tasks which could have come to them if they were not stopped by the leadership team. There were a few points made about the role of the leadership has changed in schools and these unavoidable ‘red tape’ tasks are coming from higher of the educational machine. It was mentioned that leader without teaching commitments themselves didn’t help the situation.

The fourth and fifth questions focused on how teachers, schools and policy makers can reduce red tape. ‘Communication’ would sum up many of the answers. Test, with SATs in particular, were mentioned by many. Reducing marking by being smarter with peer and verbal feedback was also mentioned.

The final question asked about which admin tasks are necessary. It was suggested that ‘some’ meetings are necessary, and also safe guarding was very important. But it was interesting to see how many teachers felt that they would do better if they were on their own.

Surely not true! What about UKEdChat…?

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