Reducing teacher workload - discussion with Denise Inwood, Managing Director, BlueSky

Former Assistant Head Teacher Denise Inwood is Managing Director of BlueSky, creators of BlueSky Education, the leading online staff development, professional learning and self-evaluation software for schools. Denise founded the company in 2001 on the belief that engagement and professional accountability at an individual level is critical to school improvement and ensuring that everyone understands their role in supporting the school to achieve its key outcomes. Reducing teacher workload and data management is also top of her agenda. Here she discusses the issue and how to ease the burden for today’s teaching staff......


In the DfE’s Workload Challenge 63% of teachers stated that the excessive level of detail in the tasks they were required to carry out made them burdensome. Nicky Morgan, Minister of State for Education has since announced the formation of three workload review groups covering marking, planning and data management.
Having been an Assistant Head, I’m all too aware that over scrutiny of professional practice and relentless tracking of performance generates a huge volume of data which is hard to aggregate and makes real-time feedback and insight into professional performance impossible.
What is needed is standardisation of the quality assurance process across all schools and a focus on priorities that are critical to staff development and the targets set by senior leadership teams. Teachers need to understand how what they do on a day-to-day basis impacts on them and the performance of the school. This is best achieved through real-time online data capture.
Teaching is collaborative by its nature and it’s important that staff understand the impact of their work on young people, their teams and their organisation. It’s also important to ensure that the targets set for each individual remain their central focus and are dovetailed neatly into school improvement plans. Line managers and staff need to be able to revisit and assess what they are doing, how effective it is and what needs to be done in terms of timely interventions linked to the priorities of that school and that individual.
Teachers need to be able to articulate their own professional development, record evidence and clearly demonstrate that they are reaching their targets and working towards a common goal to improve the educational outcomes of their pupils.


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