Cut the School Week to Better Manage Teacher Workload?

By Jocelyn Levy | 2nd November 2020 | 3 min read

One school in Daventry has suggested cutting out Friday afternoons to better manage teacher workload. What are the pros and cons of such an approach and how was the idea received?

Simple way to manage teacher workload?

Jacqui Johnson is the headteacher of the Ashby Fields primary school looking to better manage teacher workload and her suggested plan would see students end the Friday school day at 1.15pm. I can’t imagine there were too many complaints from students. It would leave the rest of the working day for teachers and staff to deal with admin, and give them time to prepare lessons for the following week.

We hear on a regular basis how teachers struggle with their workload – it’s frequently the number one reason why they leave the profession. They are striving for a better work life balance. Therefore, one afternoon a week to dedicate to work outside the classroom has some logic to it.

It’s always one of those ideas that is going to be a lot harder in practice than theory though, but the school had ideas in place. The school would still have met government legal requirements for classroom hours and it was going to offer ‘wraparound’ care for students whose parents couldn’t adjust to the new timetable and would be unable to pick their child up at an earlier time.

Cut the cut

The school was all set to discuss the proposed changes with parents and explore the idea, however, after receiving much national attention, the idea was dropped before that stage. Jacqui Johnson said:

“The governors and senior leaders have decided not to pursue the proposal beyond this informal consultation stage”.

The idea received some support from parents, but many had concerns. One parent, Emma Lennox, said:

“Not a lot of places will employ you on school hours, let alone half a day on a Friday or a whole day off on a Friday.”

How to manage teacher workload

An attempt to manage teacher workload better would be welcomed in most schools. Unfortunately, this idea of cutting school hours on Friday doesn’t seem to be the right option, at least for the Ashby school. It’s an idea worthy of debate though.

But how can schools go about better managing teacher workload? It’s in technology that the best answer lies at the moment. If they can’t cut hours to give themselves more time, schools need to make the most of the time they have got. Solutions that can improve efficiency, reduce admin and let teachers concentrate on teaching are what can help.

We try to achieve that in our solutions here at FasTrak. We aim to help schools run a smooth operation on a day-to-day basis, with identity management that makes accessing all the schools’ infrastructure and services simple throughout the day, whether that be attendance, catering or printing.

Solutions like ours can be small part of the solution to the teacher workload problem, but certainly more could be done. Ideas like that at the Ashby school might not have been the right one, but we should welcome the debate, the ideas and the discussion, because teacher workload is an important issue for the education sector to find an answer to.

Related links & news stories

The Guardian: School considers Friday afternoon closures to stop teacher ‘burnout’

BBC: Primary school’s Friday lunchtime closure plan scrapped