Light at the end of the tunnel for overworked teachers?

Flexible cloud-based MIS systems in particular can play a genuine role in cutting unnecessary workload, says Andy Makeham

It has been a year since the Government published its response to the DfE’s Workload Challenge which revealed some uncomfortable truths about the well-being of teachers in the UK.

The survey highlighted that 56% faced significant frustrations with recording, inputting and monitoring information, with 45% specifically stating data duplication added to their excessive burden. More recently, research conducted by the National Union of Teachers suggests little has changed. 53% of teachers admitted they were thinking of quitting in the next two years, with 61% of those wanting to leave blaming workload.

Before schools can begin to search for answers they should reflect on the key factors which have contributed to the teacher workload crisis and ask, can we do anything different?

Government policy has influenced schools to capture increasing volumes of data. As a result, teachers are being left with too many sources of information to manage from email, virtual learning environments to academic performance tables. The flawed ‘collect as much as possible’ principle is exacerbated by poor implementations of Management Information Systems (MIS), dominated by a single market monopoly, which have created a culture of ‘data drowning’.

The flawed ‘collect as much as possible’ principle is exacerbated by poor implementations of Management Information Systems (MIS), dominated by a single market monopoly, which have created a culture of ‘data drowning’

UK schools invest £600m each year on ICT, a large enough figure to support innovation. But they must have higher expectations and demand more from specialist software providers or risk losing more demoralised teachers at the expense of enhancing pupil achievement.

A new white paper written by leading edtech consultant John Roberts claims schools are yet to realise the potential of integrated cloud applications and other disruptive technologies, such as wearables and personal devices, to dramatically free teachers from manual administrative tasks. With many emerging solutions reaching maturity, schools can now embrace technology which fits their specific needs without being limited by restrictive IT infrastructure and outdated systems.

They offer the ability to streamline the collection and reporting of reliable, decision-driven data and provide schools with a single source to communicate content, resources and analysis. By optimising workflows, MIS solutions eliminate the need for information to be entered twice to reduce the burden placed upon teachers and administrators.

Moving to the cloud also increases interoperability so that school data no longer has to reside in separate silos. This allows teachers to better collaborate together, improving morale, and build effective pupil relationships to enhance learner outcomes whilst decreasing workload.

Modern technology can be the light at the end of the tunnel for overstretched teachers but if used in isolation it cannot overcome the issue of escalating workloads. By introducing it alongside sensible Government policy and school leadership focused on breaking the status quo, integrated systems can allow teachers to concentrate on spending more time in the classroom.

Andy Makeham is Managing Director of Advanced Education.


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