Short history lesson: teacher admin task list

In the early 1990s I remember sitting in a year team meeting that just happened to be in the English Department. It was the first time, as a young teacher, I remember thinking how impressed I was by the display boards around the room.

Sad to say, it wasn’t so much the content of the boards that grabbed my attention…it might have been on ‘Of Mice and Men’…perhaps ‘Macbeth’, not sure. So, not the content then. Rather it was the clear time and dedication by the teacher, to get the backing paper squares in a perfectly aligned bi-coloured checkerboard pattern. Wow, simply stunning. It was like admin task display Battenburg all over the walls.

Fast forward to the early 2000s. I was Head of Maths and spent many hours not only preparing classroom boards along with those of the long Maths corridor as well. [Side note: Well done to those now approaching their 40s for being ‘mathematician of the week’. Someone, somewhere, still has their certificate].

Then, one Monday night, I’m in a staff meeting: Imagine my thoughts when all of a sudden we are told School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document released the 21 admin tasks teachers could no longer be expected to do. Here they are (Excerpt from the STPCD 2004):

  • Collecting money from pupils and parents. 
  • Investigating a pupil’s absence. 
  • Bulk photocopying. 
  • Typing or making word-processed versions of manuscript material and producing revisions of such versions. 
  • Word-processing, copying and distributing bulk communications, including standard letters, to parents and pupils. 
  • Producing class lists on the basis of information provided by teachers. 
  • Keeping and filing records, including records based on data supplied by teachers. 
  • Preparing, setting up and taking down classroom displays in accordance with decisions taken by teachers. 
  • Producing analyses of attendance figures. 
  • Producing analyses of examination results. 
  • Collating pupil reports. 
  • Administration of work experience (but not selecting placements and supporting pupils by advice or visits). 
  • Administration of public and internal examinations. 
  • Administration of cover for absent teachers. 
  • Ordering, setting up and maintaining ICT equipment and software. 
  • Ordering supplies and equipment. 
  • Cataloguing, preparing, issuing and maintaining materials and equipment and stocktaking the same. 
  • Taking verbatim notes or producing formal minutes of meetings. 
  • Coordinating and submitting bids (for funding, school status and the like) using contributions by teachers and others. 
  • Transferring manual data about pupils not covered by the above into computerised school management systems. 
  • Managing the data in school management systems

 …and there it was: “Preparing, setting up and taking down classroom displays in accordance with decisions taken by teachers”.

Game Changer?

This, and of course everything else, felt a bit of a game changer at the time. Great, let’s focus on teaching. We stopped taking minutes and everyone did their own; a teacher no longer arranged cover in the morning; I no longer collected Comic Relief Day money. I wasn’t quite sure what a data management system was, but I certainly wouldn’t be “managing the data” anyway. Admin tasks no more!

The Noughties to the Teenies

Fast forward to 2014. The list of 21 disappeared from STPCD. Gone, faster than that smell of Banda ink, to simply be replaced by:

STPDC: “Summary of changes to pay and conditions since 2013:

(h) Removal of the detailed list of 21 administrative/clerical tasks”.

And what we had instead was this:

“53.8 A teacher should not be required routinely to participate in any administrative, clerical and organisational tasks which do not call for the exercise of a teacher’s professional skills and judgement, including those associated with the arrangements for preparing pupils for external examinations such as invigilation”.

And now?

Fast forward to 2024. Are you doing your displays? Yes? No?…Good news! This list is back.

In a March 2024 revision of STPCD (2023) we now have Annex 5 back in full. It’s new, revised and shiny. And…coming in at item 12 of 23:

“12.Organisation, decoration and assembly of the physical classroom space e.g.moving classrooms, moving classroom furniture, putting up and taking down classroom displays”.

Your next Year Team meeting.

Why don’t you play ‘Admin 23 Task Bingo’ at your next team meeting. Can you guess what is there? But do remember to tell the English staff how great their displays are. In 1993 I don’t think I ever did…but I did of course pinch the ideas.

Bingo Answers here (Annex 5):


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