Freeflowinfo was recommended to the DfE Workload Reduction Team for inclusion in its Workload Reduction Toolkit (July 2018), by ASCL, who described it as: “… a very simple but brilliant concept I believe it is worth adding to the set of systems which can genuinely reduce workload whilst delivering better results.” We are delighted that FFI has been referenced in the toolkit as a means of reducing teacher workload whilst improving pupil achievement through effective Parental Engagement. The following extracts have been taken from case studies written by schools using freeflowinfo, as part of the comprehensive evidence-base requested by the DfE.
“The Free Flow Info implementation guidance is extremely detailed and reflects the ‘know-how’ that only comes with spending years in busy school environments. Central to this are the planned activities that engage all staff in the design of the implementation. It puts staff in control within a professional framework so that they can decide what some key pedagogical elements of FFI will look like in their school.
The guidance and implementation preparation that is provided is based on a formula that works well with teachers. As soon as the concept was explained to them, they understood the benefits. Motivation can be a rare commodity during staff training days at the end of a summer break but that certainly wasn’t the case with FFI. One of the first exercises requires staff to work in phases or subject areas, to identify from existing programmes of study (schemes of work) the elements that will be uploaded by the pupils. As a result of the detailed planning staff produced during our September non-contact days, colleagues have found a significant reduction in the amount of time they have to spend on planning.” – Grant Hopkins, Headteacher, Lockwood Primary School, Boosbeck, Redcar and Cleveland
Providing Effective Feedback
“One of the outcomes we wanted from the evaluation of the programmes of study was to identify time within class where feedback to pupils could be provided through one-to-one conversations between pupil and teacher. Ongoing review is revealing that this is providing a real opportunity for workload reduction as teachers do not have to spend as much time after school when the children have left, or at home during evenings and weekends, providing written feedback for pupils; a point that leads to our third element that reduces teacher workload.” – Grant Hopkins, Headteacher, Lockwood Primary School, Boosbeck, Redcar and Cleveland
Reporting to Parents
“Free Flow Info methodology allows schools to implement FFI in a way that best meets their own context. It has been designed so that it meets every statutory requirement for reporting to parents, making it possible for schools to use it to totally replace their current system of reporting to parents. However, this is not an absolute, and with FFI, schools are able to adapt their reporting requirements to best meet the context of their own school.
The time taken by colleagues to write reports under the previous system, varied greatly and the amount of time taken could not always be associated with the production of high quality comments. Although we did not undertake a strict, scientific measurement of the time colleagues took to write reports in previous years, we estimate that they spent a minimum of 36 hours on each class set. This time does not include the time spent by line managers in the checking and correction of errors. We would anticipate that using this hybrid system in the first year of FFI will reduce workload by at least 30 hours.” – Grant Hopkins, Headteacher, Lockwood Primary School, Boosbeck, Redcar and Cleveland
“Like many teachers across the country, most teachers at St Peter’s used to write their reports in their own time during the Spring Bank Holiday week. We have never kept a log of the time taken over this exercise and colleagues are clear that they have not spent all day every day on the task, but an estimate of 36-38 hours would not be considered as being unrealistic. This does not include the time taken by line-managers to check the reports.
As far as workload reduction is concerned, this provides a double benefit. Holiday time is precious. Time recouped during holidays is different from time saved at the end of a working day. It is time that should be used for regeneration, the relieving of stress, and spending quality time with family.
Free Flow Info can give colleagues the break they need during the summer term without having to compromise on quality. Indeed, through FFI our ‘reporting to parents’ started in September and 77% of our parents say that they have a better understanding of their child’s learning through FFI than through our usual reporting system.” – Richard Unthank, Headteacher, St Peter’s Church of England Primary School, Saltburn-by the- sea, Redcar and Cleveland.
Productive time with parents – daily contact
“In the context of a primary school, the meeting and greeting of parents is an important part of forming relationships. However, since the introduction of FFI, the nature of the content of the daily conversations has changed; parents are not asking about progress on a daily basis. This has led to fewer demanding conversations before the start of school and the inevitable distractions that they produce for teachers. It is hard to put a number to the amount of time saved but it is certainly a factor that reduces teacher workload in a stressful area.” – Richard Unthank, Headteacher, St Peter’s Church of England Primary School, Saltburn-by the- sea, Redcar and Cleveland.
Productive time with parents – parents’ consultation meetings
“Having recently experienced our latest parents’ consultation meetings in early March, colleagues have reported that the content of these discussions has been less focused on generalities, and more focused on learning. Interestingly, even though this was just one and a half terms into our use of Free Flow Info, this is borne-out by the parental survey that showed that 46% of parents thought FFI would enable more in-depth conversations with teachers about learning. Feedback from colleagues after the consultation meetings suggests that parents were more focused on learning than they may have thought.” – Richard Unthank, Headteacher, St Peter’s Church of England Primary School, Saltburn-by the- sea, Redcar and Cleveland.