Teachers in schools with poorer pupils asked to collect more attainment data, prompting fears over workload

Talented staff will leave if administrative burden becomes too high, researcher warns

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Tuesday 26 November 2019 19:13 GMT
Teachers at schools with lower Ofsted ratings have to report more frequently on pupil attainment (File photo)
Teachers at schools with lower Ofsted ratings have to report more frequently on pupil attainment (File photo) (iStockphoto)

Teachers in schools serving the poorest children are made to collect data on pupils’ attainment more frequently, which can exacerbate workload issues and staff shortages, researchers have warned.

Nearly two in three (63 per cent) teachers in the most disadvantaged primary schools are asked to supply data on pupils’ progress at least six times a year, compared to just 39 per cent of staff in the most affluent primary schools, according to a report.

Teachers at schools with lower Ofsted ratings also have to report more frequently on pupil attainment than their peers in schools rated as good or outstanding, FFT Education Datalab has found.

The survey, of 3,000 teachers, finds that 63 per cent of teachers at primary schools rated less than “good” had to provide data on their class at least every half term – which is six times or more a year.

For schools with higher inspection ratings, the figure was just over half (51 per cent).

The research, carried out by Teacher Tapp, comes after a government workload advisory group last year told schools not to have more than two or three attainment data collection points a year.

Ofsted introduced a new inspection framework in September to move away from a focus on pupils’ attainment data following concerns about excessive workload and teacher shortages.

Rebecca Allen, chief analyst at Teacher Tapp, said schools could be collecting data more frequently for a variety of reasons.

She said: “It may also be because an outside body – inspectors, regional schools commissioners, a local authority or multi-academy trust head office – advised that more data should be collected or are perceived to favour frequent data collection.”

Dr Allen told The Independent: “We know that data collection can be a contributor to the workload problem that teachers face and can contribute to teacher retention issues.

“Huge demands are placed on schools themselves to show that they’re making progress, but they also need to do everything they can to keep the admin burden to a reasonable level otherwise there is the potential to lose even more talented teachers.”

Stephen Rollett, curriculum and inspection specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The reality is that some schools continue to feel they need to collect data more regularly in the context of an accountability system which is overbearing and punitive.

“This is particularly likely to happen in schools rated by Ofsted as less than good where the pressures are especially acute.”

Mr Rollett called for more to be done to develop a “proportionate accountability system”.

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “Manufacturing and collecting data on pupils’ attainment or progress can be very time consuming for teachers, without much evidence that it helps improve education for children.

“That’s why our new inspections focus instead on how children are getting a good education through a broad, rich curriculum.

“We’ve also begun explicitly looking at teachers’ workload. Inspectors will look at whether schools’ collections of attainment or progress data are proportionate, represent an efficient use of school resources, and are sustainable for staff.”

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