Reading Borough Council (RBC) has announced the completion of a multi-agency commitment to reduce teachers’ workloads in Reading.

The town has followed the example of cities including Nottingham and Coventry, who have set up similar fair workload charters.

The commitment has been devised and endorsed by teachers, head teachers, trade unions and local authority officers, after RBC backed councillor Josh Williams’ calls for the charter to be introduced in 2017.

Councillor Ashley Pearce, lead member for Education, said: “We wanted it to be a document accepted and applicable to head teachers, governors, everyone involved in schools, so it had some teeth.

“Anything we can do in Reading to make us stand out and have a slightly different USP is welcome when we want to attract and keep the best teachers in Reading.”

The charter includes pledges from senior leaders of Reading’s schools to monitor and review workload and help identify ways to reduce or eliminate unnecessary tasks.

The commitment was presented to the council's Adult Social care, Children’s Service and Education (ACE) committee on Thursday, April 4.

Teachers in England work an average of 54 hours a week, while school leaders work in excess of 60, according to the Department for Education’s workload survey.

Alison McNamara, panel secretary for education and community unions, said: “The union were very keen to get behind this and make it a reality for teachers working in Reading.

“It has flexibility that has been approved by head teachers, so they can implement it in a way that suits them.

“It also has key principles that are meaningful for staff working in schools, which is something the unions have been very keen to make happen.”

Under the charter, new strategies at schools, such as marking policy, will be assessed in the context of the overall workload demand on staff, with any adverse impact reduced or removed.

The charter suggests overtime should not be longer than an average of two hours per day or three hours for leadership ‘with a focus on quality rather than quantity’.

Staff will be encouraged to manage their own working time, by agreeing a reasonable time to go home and being mindful of individual commitments such as journey times and family.

Workload will be kept under regular review and a directed time calendar will be published each June.

Councillor Rob White said: “It’s a good start. What we all want is a good education for our children in Reading and looking after our teachers is going to make that happen.”

Councillors Clare Grashoff and Meri O’Connell were less convinced.

Cllr O’Connell added: “This is full of good intention, but I do think it’s going to be unachievable until there is more money coming in from central government.”

Cllr Pearce responded: “Lots of things in education would be much better if we weren’t facing the severe funding cuts we are.

“This about doing what we can and giving Reading something different to other authorities.”

The fair workload commitment was due to be presented at February’s ACE committee but due to an error the wrong version was appended to the report so the item was deferred to last Thursday’s meeting.