Death by a thousand DfE emails

Janet Downs's picture

Death by a thousand cuts is a lingering loss of life by a thousand small slices.  It could easily be a metaphor for the school funding crisis.

This description has hitherto highlighted the overuse of worksheets (death by a thousand worksheets) or power point presentations (death by a thousand PPPs).   It suggests long-drawn-out drowning in a well of printed stuff.

Today it better describes the barrage of DfE emails sent to schools.  I pity any head opening the school’s inbox this morning to find among notices about supporting early careers teachers, admission appeals and updated lists about qualifications, twelve messages telling schools how to reduce teacher workload*.  

The dozen dispatches come with links: workshop outlines, power point presentations, handouts, case studies and further information (should the smothered leader wish to discover more).

All this is well meant, although a cynic might say it also gives ministers a useful sound bite about how the DfE is helping schools reduce staff overload.   But this barrage of emails adds to workload.  It does not alleviate it (unless the recipient trashes them or files the communications in a folder marked ‘Pending’, ‘DfE bumf’ or ‘LBW**).

The handouts provide a succinct summary of each workshop: aims, why, how, outcomes and resources.  But handouts need copying and they're not copier-friendly.  Most of the writing is white on a bluey-green background.  This is likely to photocopy as white on pale grey unless schools ignore DfE warnings not to use colour copying.

To summarise: the DfE sends out advice on how to reduce workload.  But the bombardment of emails does the opposite. 


*Downloadable here

**LBW as a filing system appears in ITV’s  A Touch of Frost.  See here, scroll down.

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