The Training Centre
By Aspire
May 3 22

High Impact Workload Reducing Approaches By Adam Riches

Phillippa Butterworth

Adam Riches is an Assistant Principal, Head of English and a Specialist Leader in Education. He is the author of ‘Teach Smarter’, a guide to effective and efficient teaching which reduces teacher workload through streamlining practice. Adam frequently writes for TES, Sec Ed and Teach Secondary, as well as Primary School Management, Teach Primary and various other leading publications on the topic of workload, change management and pedagogy.

How much can you reduce workload in your school? More than you might think and it doesn’t need to take long.

There are some key areas that can be addressed to almost instantly reduce working time. Schools are places in an ever changing state of flux. That is why you need to ensure that your practices allow staff the time to adapt to the needs of the school and their students.


Marking and feedback is one of the most onerous tasks teachers have. On average in the UK, teachers spend 11 hours marking a week. In most cases, the marking and feedback that goes into books and onto sheets is not revisited, used or sadly, even read. Complex feedback policies mean that departments often mark books in very different ways and although there is evidence of successful approaches in some areas, often, teachers are simply grinding through books because an archaic policy tells them to.

Look at your marking policy and consider how much of it can be done in the lesson by the teacher. If the answer isn’t a lot, then rewrite it so that teachers are empowered to use their time circulating to mark.

Consider using whole class feedback methods to address misconceptions within classes. When combined with live marking, the speed, accuracy and usability of the feedback is second to none. Not only do students get the chance to get feedback as they work, they also get to reflect on the misconceptions they have had or may have in the future…and best of all, teachers have 11 extra hours per week.


In your training year, you expect to be filling in long lesson plans, because you need to learn the mechanisms for lesson and task planning. It’s something that cannot be avoided. Once teachers are qualified however, make sure they can move away from long lesson plans.

Being fully prepared should be an expectation, but there is no need to have a lesson plan to show this.

In an ideal world, you would allow departments’ time in their directed hours to collaboratively plan as to ease the burden on individuals. By using directed time for this, you not only encourage the sense of collective efficacy, you also start to build a culture around the idea of workload reduction.


Centralising pastoral support may seem like a huge shift (and it is) but it will have a massive impact on the workload of teaching staff. By centralising detentions and internal withdrawals, teachers not only feel supported from the top, they are also able to focus on what they need to do – teach.

Pastoral responsibilities can take up a huge chunk of teacher time and by centralising provision, staff save time. This time of course can be used for other things, and in turn increasing wellbeing.


Careful consideration of CPD is of paramount importance. Workload can quickly increase if an approach isn’t correctly introduced, trained and applied. In fact, some CPD significantly adds to workload.

CPD must be treated like a lesson and the fact that it is often held after school must be taken into account. How much value is the planned CPD giving? If it isn’t much, it might be time to reconsider the approach. If CPD is adaptive, it is instantly relevant to the staff expected to be on it. The more relevant it is, the more likely it is they will buy in. Do away with CPD schedules that are planned years in advance – make sure you listen to staff needs and get a good idea of what is happening on the ground.