Research and insights

17 October 2022

Workload and curriculum: what have teachers told us?

Reka Budai

Research and Evaluation Manager

We want teachers’ needs to be at the forefront of our decision-making; we’re always thinking about how we can better help and support them.

As we take on our new role as an independent body, tasked with supporting teacher workload reduction and building curriculum expertise, we’re listening to lots of groups. They’re all helping shape our plans. Key amongst these groups is teachers.

To help us understand how we can continue to best support teachers in tackling workload and in curriculum design, we’ve spent the last year digging into these areas.

To share what we’ve learnt with others in the sector, we’ve brought together insights gathered through a range of research methods into a new report: ‘Workload and curriculum: what have teachers told us?’.

The report explores:

  • The challenges teachers are facing nationally with managing their heavy workload and curriculum.
  • The role we have played to date in supporting them.
  • What more teachers want on these issues nationally, and from us.
Download the report

Our findings at a glance

Challenges with workload and curriculum

  • There are on-going challenges with workload and curriculum. Teachers still spend hours each week looking for resources or creating them from scratch, and despite curriculum design being a complex process they receive little training or support in this area.
  • Teachers told us they want:
    • High-quality, affordable resources that are easily adaptable.
    • Access to curriculum models, to collaborate with subject experts and to receive training.

How we're supporting with lesson planning workload

  • Around 32,000 teachers continued to use Oak each week during 2021/22 to support their lesson planning and delivery. 77% of them would recommend us and 93% plan to continue using our resources this academic year.
  • Oak had a positive impact on the workload of these teachers, saving nearly half of them three hours a week; the equivalent of three weeks per school year, reducing pressure and creating space for additional support for pupils.
  • Teachers also told us about improvements we can make, including more topics, more tasks and scaffolding, and better design of our slides. We’ll build all of this in as we work with partners to create brand new, improved lesson resources.

How we're supporting with curriculum

  • 61% of teachers who use Oak find the curriculum sequencing and structure high or very high quality.
  • Teachers mostly take learning from Oak and make their own improvements to parts of their existing schemes.
  • Oak has helped teachers improve their skills in curriculum design and contributed to refining their existing curriculum, with 50% of users reporting they feel more confident in curriculum design.
  • In the future, teachers will be able to easily access exemplar curricula from excellent schools and organisations alongside our own, so they have more examples to draw inspiration from.

This is by no means the final picture. Our work to understand and support teachers will constantly evolve.

We plan to increase the breadth and depth of our research and evaluation work. We’ll share our findings as we go, but hope this is a helpful first contribution to understanding what teachers want from us.