Identifying and Reducing Bureaucratic Burdens

Claire Easton, Claire Easton, Bernadetta Brzyska, Bernadetta Brzyska

01 March 2012

The DfE submitted five questions to NFER’s Teacher Voice Omnibus Survey in November 2011. These covered the following topics: bureaucratic burdens that have prevented teachers from raising attainment and achievement of children and standards in school; and health and safety requirements that have got in the way of teaching or managing at school and/or taking pupils on school trips.

In addition to the questions submitted through the Omnibus survey for primary and secondary school teachers, DfE commissioned NFER to undertake a separate survey, comprising the same questions, of teachers in maintained special schools in England.


The report provides an analysis of the responses to the questions in both surveys, along with supporting information about the two questionnaires. Results are presented by school type (main sample and special), phase (primary and secondary) and by teacher seniority level (classroom teachers or senior leaders).

Key Findings

  • The majority of teachers felt that there was at least one bureaucratic burden preventing them from raising attainment and achievement of pupils and standards. The most commonly given reasons included paperwork, assessing pupil progress and monitoring data.
  • For special schools, the largest proportion of respondents revealed monitoring data and evidence was a burden.
  • The main sources of burdens seemed to be the school itself – this was particularly true for classroom teachers, whereas proportionally more senior leaders indicated that the DfE was the main origin of burden.
  • Teachers felt additional skilled staff and/or help in the classroom would reduce bureaucratic burdens; for special school teachers, most often their suggestions focussed around spending more time on teaching, learning and child development; reducing monitoring and data recording and stabilising policy changes.
  • Health and safety requirements appeared to be a barrier to teaching/managing in school or to taking pupils on school trips. This was mainly thought to be due to paperwork being too onerous.

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