Supporting the recruitment and retention of teachers in schools with high proportions of disadvantaged pupils: understanding current practice around managing teacher workload

Kerry Martin, Rachel Classick, Caroline Sharp and Henry Faulkner-Ellis

01 November 2023

Research report on the EEF website

High workload is the top reason teachers give for leaving the profession, so reducing workload is a priority for improving retention and making teaching more attractive to new entrants. This study for the Education Endowment Foundation was established to explore current practices on managing workload in English schools. It adopts a mixed-method approach, triangulating data from a teacher survey, interviews, and analysis of documents with the purpose of making recommendations for promising future areas for research.

Key Findings

  • Most schools are using multiple strategies to manage teacher workload, most commonly giving timetabled time for planning and marking, offering access to existing schemes of work and lesson plans, and collaborative lesson planning.  
  • Many schools in the study had changed their policies and approaches recently with the intention of reducing teacher workload. However, introducing new strategies often adds to workload, at least in the short term.
  • Teachers in schools with more workload reduction strategies in place were much more likely to have positive views of their workload, autonomy and job satisfaction.
  • Some of the main drivers of workload come from outside the school – primarily from the government and Ofsted, but also from parents/carers. There were few sources of workload that disproportionately affect schools with large proportions of disadvantaged pupils. 
  • Insufficient funding and staff capacity is the top barrier to workload reduction; increased support from other agencies is a key enabler, and reducing the workload associated with behaviour management is the top priority for schools to address in future.