Administrative tasks

Under the Workload Agreement, teachers in maintained schools in England and Wales should not routinely be required to undertake tasks of a clerical or administrative nature "which do not call for the exercise of a teacher's professional skills and judgement".

Such tasks should be undertaken by support staff or transferred to ICT, so teachers can focus on teaching. Any transfer of tasks should not result in a reduction in the support that teachers are provided with in the classroom.

While the Workload Agreement does not apply to independent schools, ATL believes the list of administrative tasks below can be used as a useful benchmark in discussions about reducing workload.

What are administrative tasks?

A list of 21 tasks which do not call for the exercise of the teacher's professional skills and judgement appears below, with ATL's advice shown in brackets.

1. Collecting money from pupils and parents (a designated member of the office staff should be responsible for receiving and recording money).

2. Investigating a pupil's absence (teachers will need to inform the relevant member of staff when a pupil is absent from a class, but they should not have to telephone pupils' homes, for example).

3. Bulk photocopying (eg for whole class use).

4. Typing or making word-processed versions of manuscript material and producing revisions of such versions.

5. Word processing, copying and distributing bulk communications, including standard letters, to parents and pupils.

6. Producing class lists on the basis of information provided by teachers (teachers may need to be involved in allocating pupils to particular classes).

7. Keeping and filing records including records based on data supplied by teachers (teachers may be required to contribute towards the content of records).

8. Preparing, setting up and taking down classroom displays (teachers will still make decisions about what material should be displayed in their classrooms).

9. Producing analyses of attendance figures.

10. Producing analyses of examination results.

11. Collating pupil reports.

12. Administration of work experience (teachers may still need to select placements and support pupils by advice or visits).

13. Administration of public and internal examinations.

14. Administration of cover for absent teachers.

15. Ordering, setting up and maintaining ICT equipment and software.

16. Ordering supplies and equipment.

17. Cataloguing, preparing, issuing and maintaining materials and equipment and stocktaking the same.

18. Taking verbatim notes or producing formal minutes of meetings (teachers may be required to coordinate action points if necessary).

19. Coordinating and submitting bids (for funding, school status, etc). (Teachers may be required to give input into the content of the bids.)

20. Transferring manual data about pupils into computerised school management systems. (Teachers should not be expected to input initial data electronically.)

21. Managing the data in school management systems.

If a teacher had a management allowance linked to carrying out a task that could be transferred to support staff or ICT, he or she now needs to undertake an alternative responsibility more focused on teaching and learning in order to continue receiving the allowance. Any change to contracts or job descriptions would have to be the subject of consultation between the headteacher and teacher.

Refusing to carry out administration

Teachers should not be 'routinely' required to undertake tasks of a clerical or administrative nature that do not call for the exercise of their professional skills and judgement. You may be asked to carry out a non-routine task but this should be exceptional. Your headteacher must act reasonably in making requests of this kind. However, a refusal to do this task could result in disciplinary action - if such action is threatened, you should contact ATL for advice.

A lack of proper organisation does not justify such tasks being routinely undertaken by teachers. A school should make organised arrangements for tasks such as bulk photocopying so that teachers rarely, if ever, need to undertake such a task themselves.

The headteacher should determine who supervises the school's clerical and administrative staff - ATL expects that a member of the school's administrative staff should be responsible for their management.

Support staff

The changes set out above must not transfer a workload problem from one group of staff to another. Therefore, ATL's view is that a task can only be transferred with the agreement of support staff (and accompanied by appropriate increases in hours or pay).

Support staff should not be taken out of the classroom to undertake administrative duties. The changes are intended to raise standards as well as reduce teachers' workload and withdrawing support for pupils from the classroom could have the opposite effect.

Any changes to the terms and conditions of support staff must only be made by agreement and with a commitment from the school to address the implications for salaries if extra duties are undertaken.

Schools can implement the contractual changes with regard to the 21 tasks in a number of different ways. For example, they can:

  • employ extra staff to do them

  • negotiate and agree an increase in the hours of existing staff who are willing to carry out some of the tasks

  • negotiate and agree the incorporation of some of the tasks into the (amended) job descriptions of existing support staff.

Support staff should not agree to take on additional duties unless they are willing to and they agree with their headteacher that they will receive an appropriate pay increase and/or an increase in hours. ATL will not accept its support staff members being pressurised into undertaking extra work with no increase in pay or hours.

Support staff finding themselves in this situation should state that they do not accept the change to their role and job description, and contact ATL's London office immediately.

Need further advice?

Your first point of contact is your ATL rep in your school or college. Your local ATL branch is also available to help with queries, or you can contact ATL's member advisors on tel: 020 7930 6441 or email us. Please have your membership number to hand when telephoning and include it with any correspondence - this will help us to answer your query more quickly.

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