Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education and Welsh Language
Tackling staff workload and reducing bureaucracy is a key priority set out in Our National Mission Action Plan. To achieve this, discussions have taken place over the past few months with our education leadership and teacher unions, local authorities, regional partnerships, Estyn and other key stakeholders. We have made significant progress, which is summarised below:
Workload impact assessment
This will be at the forefront of Welsh Government policy development and will ensure appropriate consideration of workload implications and union engagement early in the policy making process. A professional learning programme for policy makers has been designed and will be operational in September. We are also developing a digital tool designed to gather evidence from headteachers based on questions about what creates workload, which will lead to refining current arrangements and will support the ongoing impact assessment process. This tool will be in operation in the autumn term.
Reporting and engagement
We are taking forward a thorough policy review of the regulations with reporting requirements that impact on schools, to ensure that they are aligned with Ministerial policy expectations and are as simple and coordinated as possible. There is also a range of non-statutory reporting requirements through Welsh Government, local authorities and regional Consortia and Partnerships. We will develop a more coherent and simpler process for reporting to reduce burden, which will be grounded in the school improvement guidance.
We will establish a national forum chaired by Welsh Government to ensure schools are supported appropriately. Its role will include ensuring that there is clarity of purpose of all engagement in discussion with heads, and to foster purpose-driven collaboration to improve standards collectively.
In addition, Estyn has met with the unions, local authorities and regional Consortia and Partnerships and has agreed the following areas for further work:
- Revision of the information Estyn requires schools and PRUs to present at the pre-inspection stage;
- Concerted communication campaign to ensure that schools and PRUs are clear about the requirements.
- A more consistent approach to supporting schools post inspection, particularly if they go into a statutory category. This will include ensuring a closer link between the school’s post-inspection action plan and the local authority’s statement of action.
Conditions of service
We have agreed that conditions of service for leaders will form part of the IWPRB Pay Review Remit for 2024/25. Teacher unions have also agreed to include a list of administrative and clerical tasks in STPC(W)D for 2023.
I have previously announced that an additional INSET day has been introduced for the current and next two academic years to support the Curriculum for Wales, ALN reform and Equity in Education. Alongside this, we will continue to develop and improve equity of access to professional learning in line with the National Entitlement. I will be announcing shortly how we will deliver the quality assurance of professional learning in the system that should refine and improve the offer across the board. We have also worked with practitioners and the education workforce unions to revise the guidance for performance management to ensure that this is a meaningful process that supports practitioners to continuously develop themselves as committed professional learners.
Additional learning needs
I have already taken action, in response to workload pressures by previously announcing additional funding for schools and an extension to the implementation of the ALN system from three years to four years. I have nearly doubled the funding to education partners for ALN implementation, investing £12m in 23-24, and 24-25 to boost resources that are needed to successfully embed the ALN reforms. We have also written to Headteachers to reiterate that the £10.4m available to schools is for the purposes of releasing or backfilling ALNCo time, promoting whole school planning and embedding of ALN in school improvement priorities.
We are alert to concerns about the increased workload placed upon ALNCos and the need for schools to ensure there is sufficient support around the ALNCo to prevent them becoming isolated and overwhelmed with caseloads. The ALN Code makes clear that the designation of an ALNCo does not remove the responsibilities of the wider workforce. An ALNCo task and finish group made up of practitioners and trade union representatives is underway and will review and provide recommendations on ALNCo pay and non-contact time by December 2023.
We will continue to work with the unions to collect evidence on workforce issues relating to ALN and respond accordingly to help alleviate workload pressures and protect quality of provision to meet the needs of learners.
We are working with local authorities and regional partnerships to simplify and streamline the reporting of grant funding and other reporting out-turns, bringing as much as possible into a single reporting space. In this financial year we have already reduced the reporting requirement across eight grant lines. Work is also underway to review the Education Improvement Grant and Pupil Development Grant with a view to simplifying the direct passporting of funding to schools. We are continuing to implement the recommendations from the Review of School Funding in Wales, including consideration of local authority school funding formulas and the School Funding Regulations with the aim of providing more flexibility to allow local authorities to better support schools to manage their budgets and provide greater transparency, comparability and consistency in the system.
School improvement: the role and responsibilities of education partners
This week I announced a review into the role and responsibilities of education partners. This will provide the means to consider in a collective, timely and transparent way what the system needs as we look to the future, and provide an opportunity to support the creation of space for positive, supportive, purpose-driven collaboration through reducing unnecessary bureaucracy.
While much has been achieved, we will continue to meet with stakeholders, continuing our constructive discussions, working in partnership to deliver tangible change. We will be restructuring and refocussing the Managing Workload and Reducing Bureaucracy Group in the autumn to give it a more strategic role and I will make a further statement in the Autumn on progress.