Damian Hinds took part in a discussion at the Association of School and College Leaders’ (ASCL) annual conference and was met with some discontent from partaking delegates.
ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton raised a question regarding funding and Hinds acknowledged it was an issue but said he hoped tackling staff retention would help reduce costs, a statement largely dismissed by the 1,000-strong audience.
He did however offer an olive branch to head teachers with a pledge to introduce no new tests or exams, or changes to the national curriculum, other than those already announced, before 2022.
He said teachers should be allowed to “focus on what actually matters” as he acknowledged that rising pupil numbers were making recruiting and retaining staff difficult.
Mr Hinds told delegates at the conference in Birmingham: “Clearly, one of the biggest threats to retention, and also to recruitment, is workload. Too many of our teachers and our school leaders are working too long hours – and on non-teaching tasks that are not helping children to learn.
“We need to get back to the essence of successful teaching – strip away the workload that doesn’t add value and give teachers the time and the space to focus on what actually matters.”
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