How does the teacher workload crisis impact pupils’ access to extra-curricular activities?

The impact of the teacher workload crisis has been revealed in a survey commissioned by education technology company, Sparx. Of 1,000 primary and secondary school teachers across the country, it was found that 70% believe that students have far fewer opportunities to engage with extra-curricular activities due to relentless workload demands. Further, 56% of teachers have sought mental health support due to workplace challenges.

What challenges do teachers face?

Teachers identify the national curriculum, the volume of written marking, and hitting Ofsted targets as key reasons why their workload is an issue. With these pressures taking priority, it is difficult to find time to organise and host extra-curricular activities.

The impact of a relentless workload means that 70% of teachers would actively discourage somebody from joining the teaching profession. This shocking statistic demonstrates the extent of the problem teaching staff face.

Despite the ongoing pressures, the survey establishes that teachers are still focused on prioritising the social, emotional and educational development of their pupils where they can. Most of the teachers surveyed agree that they would prefer to spend more time on personalised student support, exam preparation and CPD to benefit student need.

“Our school tries to provide a wide range of extra-curricular activities for students, but the workload of teachers can make this a challenge,” states Jo Williams, the Deputy Head of Maths at Coombeshead Academy. “If staff have piles of marking and paperwork then activities and clubs have to be cancelled, which means students miss out on valuable enrichment activities.”

Jo Williams also describes the importance of extra-curricular activities, “[They] help children to broaden their understanding of a subject, to contextualise their learning and develop softer skills like communication and team working.”

Can technology help to reduce workload?

Almost all teachers surveyed (90%) would welcome access to technology designed to reduce their workload.

Hannah White, the Assistant Head at All Saints Academy in Plymouth says, “Until very recently managing my workload had been a constant challenge. There was never enough time to plan lessons, find resources or think ahead. This excessive burden on workload really took a toll on my mental health. This school year, things are much better. We’ve introduced some new maths focused educational technology which has saved lots of time. It’s been transformative, it has given me the time back to be able to focus on the reason why I got into the profession – the teaching.”

This sentiment seems to be universal. Teachers crave the opportunity to reduce the burden of an excessive workload and focus on teaching and supporting the children and young people in their classroom.

The CEO of Sparx, Dan Sandhu, believes in the power of uniting the sector to help alleviate teacher workload. He also champions extra-curricular activities that nurture the skills children and young people will benefit from now and in the future.

“Addressing a challenge as detrimental as teacher workload demands the cooperation and collaboration of the education sector as a whole. It is vital to ensure that young people have the skills and knowledge to thrive in life and fulfil their potential. We understand the significance of supporting teachers and students and are committed to bringing together education leaders, policy makers, teachers, parents and education technology innovators to find impactful and sustainable solutions.” Reducing the time that teachers spend marking, lesson planning and hitting national curriculum and Ofsted targets all contribute to a more manageable workload. With the support of new technologies engineered to decrease teaching pressures, Sparx is confident that teachers can reclaim their time and focus on their students.