On 5 November 2018, a letter was sent to all school leaders explaining the DfE’s commitment to acting in response to the teacher workload advisory group report, ‘Making Data Work’, and providing new support to help reduce workload. This letter was published alongside the report and the government’s response.


Overarching principles for data use in schools


The teacher workload advisory group report will be used to inform DfE guidance, messages and ways of working with schools.

The DfE has acknowledged that data management is one cause of unnecessary workload – without creating additional work for schools, the current burden of data in schools will be continuously evaluated. The DfE will also conduct user research with school leaders and staff to confirm the need for a tool or checklist on effective data use. Should the need arise, experts will be commissioned to create this tool which will be added to the DfE’s ‘Workload reduction toolkit’ by Spring 2019.

Support will also be provided for all the overarching recommendations as follows:

  • The DfE should evaluate how school and MAT leaders currently review their use of data.
  • The DfE, Ofsted, unions and professional associations should reflect the report’s principles in their guidance, training and through networks.
  • The DfE should evaluate the extent to which schools aligned to the principles set out in the report and work with those that aren’t.
  • Ofsted should monitor the consistency of inspection practice relating to the principles of the report.
  • Unions and professional associations should disseminate the principles of the report and collect and share good practice case studies.
  • School and MAT leaders and governors should review their data processes according to the principles, using tools provided by the DfE.


Pastoral data management


The report raised concerns over the behaviour data that schools are expected to record. Additional content for the workload reduction toolkit will be produced, covering behaviour management and building on the principles from a report on effective behaviour management – this will be tested in early 2019.


Supporting the creation of higher quality pupil attainment information


The DfE plans to:

  • Work with stakeholders to improve teachers’ understanding of the principles of good formative assessment.
  • Not proceed with the introduction of optional resits in Year 7 for pupils who did not reach the expected standard in English reading and maths.
  • Support schools without basic internet connectivity by continuing work under the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) local full fibre network programme.
  • Direct schools towards available opportunities for cloud-based working.


Compiling pupil attainment information


There will not be requests for regular attainment data from schools unless they meet a trigger for intervention, or they are part of statutory data collections. Where possible, schools will only be asked for data in their existing format – this expectation will also be communicated to LAs.

The DfE will continue to promote effective uses of education technology by working with schools and EdTech providers to identify the challenges they face in realising opportunities of technology in education.


Generating predictions or targets for individual pupils


Research will be commissioned into the use and impact of target setting in schools across England. The DfE will not request data on pupil targets and predictions to hold schools to account – this will also be communicated to LAs and MATs to ensure they do not request this data.


Reporting on different groups of pupils and spending


To further understand the impact and burden of the current reporting requirements, the DfE will conduct user research in the Autumn term, taking account of the time commitment for schools, and wider impacts, e.g. on the work of Ofsted. If issues arise, actions will be published to address these by Spring 2019.


Teacher performance management


The DfE will support the findings that objectives and performance management should not be solely based on assessment data for a single group of pupils, and that objectives should not be based on teacher generated attainment or progress data, or automatically generated predictions. In light of this, the DfE’s ‘Implementing your school’s approach to pay’ guidance will be updated.


Reporting to governing boards


Revisions will be made to the ‘Governance handbook’ and ‘A Competency Framework for Governance’ to ensure they are fit for purpose and take teacher workload into account. A new governance training offer will be designed to include a focus on reducing teacher workload and ensuring all governors get the training they need to undertake their role effectively.

The DfE will also take the following actions:

  • Additional content for governors will be created for the workload toolkit and tested with users by early 2019.
  • The programme to improve Analyse School Performance will be continued, including the experience for governors.
  • The data strategy will include a focus on making comparative performance available quickly – options may be tested from Summer 2019.


Reporting to and communicating with parents


To assess the impact of schools’ current parental engagement practices, the DfE plans to commission research on approaches to reporting to parents and other forms of parental engagement. Following the outcomes of this research, existing guidance will be reviewed – taking into account the views of parents. The DfE will then consider producing additional content for the workload toolkit on parental engagement.


What’s next?


  • You can find the full teacher workload advisory group report and government response here.
  • To read the joint letter sent to school leaders, click here.
  • Our Workload Reduction Resource Pack contains the tools you need to identify workload concerns in your school, address these issues and evaluate the actions you take.



DfE (2018) ‘Government response to the Workload Advisory Group report ‘Making Data Work’’

DfE (2018) ‘Joint letter to all school leaders including headteachers, leaders of academy trusts and governing boards’