Managing the paperwork is one of the toughest things a new teacher has to learn the first couple of years in the classroom. Memos, directives, staff development forms, student forms, work requests, and general FYI papers can really accumulate if they are not organized and handled with efficiency. This doesn’t even take into account the additional student work that must be graded, recorded, and passed back to students. According to some surveys, during the course of just one school year, the average teacher will have to handle more than ten thousand student papers.
The educational reforms of the past twenty years have been blamed for placing an intolerable burden on teachers, and it is no wonder that this is cited as one of the main reasons for quitting. Record keeping and administration is often time-consuming and repetitive and many see it as detracting from the teacher’s real purpose to teach.
The fact remains however, that like other professionals, teachers have to document progress, write plans, and keep accurate records, as well as keep up to date with educational policy.
There are informational requirements at various levels. Parents want to know how well a school is performing and that can only be measured by gathering statistics. Ofsted inspect and regulate schools and colleges and share their results with the public to allow parents to make informed decisions. They also identify good practice in specific areas of provision in those institutions that achieve a good or outstanding rating. This good practice can then be taken on board by poorer performing institutions to help them improve. The taxpayer also wants reassurance that their money is being properly invested in education. Oftsed use the Common Inspection Framework to judge how effectively and efficiently a provision meets learner’s needs and how this can be improved further. Their judgements are based on evidence, part of which is taken from documentation relating to training, assessment, verification and qualifications. It is therefore essential that all teachers maintain accurate records to evidence the teaching and assessment process.
The College or school itself places record keeping requirements on the teacher. Attendance records must be maintained. These will take the form of registers for classroom based courses or contact logs for work-based learning. The importance of these records is two-fold. Firstly, to ensure that students are not skipping classes and if they are why this is also a legal requirement for compulsory education. Secondly, learning institutions need to evidence attendance to the Learning and Skills Council and other funding bodies as a requirement for receiving funds.
Teachers also to need to produce Individual learning plans for some learners to reflect on and personalise learning. These records need to be updated regularly if they are to be of value.
Personal student information needs to be maintained, for example contact details, use and storage of which is subject to the Data Protection Act. Records of discipline or any referrals made to student services for counseling etc should be maintained to ensure there is evidence of following procedure should you ever need to produce it.
Results of examinations or tests need to be recorded along with other grades for coursework. Along with calculating the overall grade of an individual student, this is also used for the calculation of retention, achievement and success rates and value added for the college as a whole. These are important measures that the college uses to compare itself with other colleges and with a national benchmark.
Evidence of use of marking schemes when grading papers is required by the external and internal verifiers to confirm that you are marking work accurately and consistently and to the specification. Awarding bodies will require paperwork for candidate registration, examination entry and certification, and while much of this will be filed in the Examinations Section of the College, evidence that you have performed your tasks should be recorded.
Maintaining records is a time consuming task that most teachers do not relish. Given the volumes of paperwork you will have to cope with, it is therefore imperative that you try to keep on top of things and create a simple filing system to make retrieval of the information easy. In the long-term, this will help reduce a lot of time, effort and stress when asked to produce statistics or prepare for inspection.