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Former Bury St Edmunds headteacher Geoff Barton to use Suffolk experience in key role reducing teacher workload

PUBLISHED: 15:28 10 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:28 10 May 2018

Geoff Barton, former headteacher at King Edward VI Upper School in Bury, said his experiences in Suffolk will help him with his work on the teacher workload review panel. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Geoff Barton, former headteacher at King Edward VI Upper School in Bury, said his experiences in Suffolk will help him with his work on the teacher workload review panel. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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A former Suffolk headteacher who has joined a new dedicated panel to review teacher workload has vowed to use his experience in Suffolk to help tackle the problem.

Former King Edward VI School headteacher and current general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton, is one of 13 top education experts to have been appointed to the new advisory panel on teacher workload.

The board has been tasked with considering how technology can help reduce unnecessary workload and how Ofsted demands on teachers to prepare evidence for inspections can be reduced.

Mr Barton said that he had experienced the problems of teacher workloads during his time as a head in Bury St Edmunds, and said it was a key issue in recruiting and retaining teachers.

“I think teacher workload is a very considerable issue,” he said.

“We lose something like a third of teachers in the first five years and something like 50% after 10 years – workload is the number one issue for them.”

He added: “Pretty much everything I do builds on the experiences I had at King Edward VI and Thurston Community College [where he was deputy head for five years].

“I know first hand just how difficult it is to recruit teachers and anything I can do now on a national level to attract people I will do.”

A host of different reasons as to why teacher workloads have escalated have been cited, including frequent changes to the curriculum which puts teachers’ lesson plans out of date quickly, more administration work, and in some cases bigger classes.

Mr Barton pointed to the panel’s chairman Professor Becky Allen – director of the Centre for Education Improvement Science – as key.

“[Teachers] are expected to be audited [for their work],” he said.

“Her view is that school and college leaders can help reduce that and use more technology for that. That’s the reason why I am particularly excited – it’s a chance to say what we are doing.”

He added: “We have to remember that teaching brings something other jobs don’t bring.

“The joy of working with young people shouldn’t be clouded by the bureaucracy around it, and the more we can de-clutter that you can attract the best young graduates and people changing careers into teaching.”

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