Teachers should not be spending their evenings and weekends responding to emails from pushy parents, the Education Secretary will say today.
Damian Hinds is to urge teacher to shun the “huge volume” of emails they receive from mothers and fathers outside of the school day, adding that technology should be making their lives easier rather than adding to their workload.
Speaking at Bett, an annual trade show in London for educational technology products, he will say: “Education is one of the few sectors where technology has been associated with an increase in workload rather than the reverse. And let’s think why.
“Back when I was at school there was an annual parents evening and a report at the end of the year. Maybe a letter home if there was a school trip.
“That report still happens and so does the parents evening, but email has revolutionised parent-teacher communication. Email hasn’t replaced much – mostly it has just added.”
Mr Hinds will tell an audience of technology company bosses and school leaders that more than half of teachers’ time is spent on non-teaching tasks, and workload is one of the most common reasons teachers cite leaving the profession.
“I’m sure none of us now could imagine a life without email, but do we ever stop to think how much of our day is actually spent reading or replying to them?” he will say.
“In many or perhaps all occupations, email takes up a lot of time. MPs have seen a step change in correspondence and contact through email.
“For many teachers the situation is even more intense, with a huge volume of emails from parents and their senior leadership team that they need to respond to outside of lesson time.”
Mr Hinds will urge teachers to make better use of technology, and ensure that it cuts down rather than adds to their work.
Earlier this month, a leading headteacher said there is a “worrying” trend towards schools setting up mass email chains or large group conversations on social media platforms for parents.
Dominic Floyd, head of Mount Kelly’s £24,000-a-year preparatory school in Devon, said that these can undermine the “delicate and critical” relationship between parents and their child’s school.
He said that while “round robin” emails can be a useful way for teachers to communicate with mothers and fathers of pupils in a particular form or year group, he warned that they also have a downside.
“The rise of these form or year group gatherings demonstrate a worrying state of affairs for some parents,” Mr Floyd said.
“While these groups can be helpful, and really positive, they can also fuel misunderstanding and become a forum for negativity.”