The Training Centre
By Aspire
May 3 22

Managing Workload – Sustainable Leadership 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.

Workload is one of the main reasons teachers leave teaching.

During periods of change, we must ensure that the appropriate attention is paid to the staff affected by the adjustments. Without careful planning and consideration, new incentives are not effectively embedded in schools. Often the key contributor is the fact that workload wasn’t fully considered in the planning stage.

So how can we ensure that we don’t increase workload when it comes to instigating change?

Plan carefully

Any kind of change needs to be managed effectively. During the planning phases, all stakeholders must be considered and more importantly, the impact of the change on each group of stakeholders must be taken into account. Often, we focus on the short term impacts of change, but in school, workload can spiral quickly if the longer term implementation isn’t considered.

Moreover, the sustainability of the change must be considered when planning. Something that dramatically affects the workload of staff is constantly changing incentives. Before a plan is implemented, be sure that the school will benefit from the change, and most importantly be sure that it won’t have a detrimental impact on staff.

Be transparent

Something that can significantly add to the workload of staff is being unsure of the aim or direction of a new incentive. Without clear parameters, teachers may create more work for themselves than necessary and in turn be less effective and efficient in other areas.

Sharing plans with staff clearly and in digestible chunks is of paramount importance when considering introducing new approaches or ideas. Teaching is a high pressure job at the best of times and what we don’t want to do is cause any additional strain on teachers inadvertently.

Share the load

Collaborative working is an age old way of reducing workload. This approach is vital for the success in the implementation of change.

By including staff during the planning and consultation period, you are able to ascertain how the change may impact others in your school. As mentioned, it is important that all staff are considered. Different teachers in different positions have a varied workload depending on their role. With this in mind, if you are taking a sustainable leadership approach, it is important to ensure that voices are heard.

Collective efficacy is the driver to the success of change. If staff are bought in, there is a much higher chance of the change being effective. With this in mind, the concept of working together must for a fundamental part of the ethos.

Provide support

Planning and explaining change is just the starting point. Following the launch of new incentives, leaders must be aware of the impacts of this change on staff.

Alongside this, it is imperative that appropriate support is put in place to scaffold and sustain the approach. This may take the form of CPD or coaching, or it may be less explicit and be in the form a review. Regardless, staff will need support to ensure that their workload is not impacted negatively by any changes that you implement.

Give time

Sustainable change takes time. I mean this in an intentionally ambiguous way. Firstly, it takes time for change to take hold, to be implemented and to be developed. Secondly, it also takes up a lot of staff time to implement change. With this in mind, it is important that leaders make allowances to directed time to ensure that staff have the appropriate amount of time to ensure the success of an approach.