5 Key Facts: Teacher Workload In The UK vs Other Countries

A new report published by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) today has analysed teacher workload and professional development in secondary schools.

The data, first gathered for the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) in 2013, included responses from 2,500 teachers across 150 schools in England and those of more than 100,000 teachers across 36 countries and jurisdictions.

Author of the report Peter Sellen, who is chief economist at the EPI and the former head of the teacher analysis team at the Department for Education, spoke to Schools Week about his deeper look at the data.

Here are the five key findings:

1. Teachers in deprived areas work fewer hours, and those in Ofsted outstanding schools hardly work more

Teachers in schools in the most deprived areas work on average 3.6 hours less per week than teachers in schools based in the most affluent areas, the report found.

Those teaching in the most deprived areas are also less likely to consider their workload “unmanageable”. And similarly, teachers in outstanding schools also do not work substantially longer hours than teachers in other schools. In fact, variation in workloads across different schools is so slight it is barely a useful measure, said Sellen.


2. Teachers in England are younger and less experienced than in other countries

Less than half of English teachers (48 per cent) have 10 or more years’ experience. The average across other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries is much higher, at 65 per cent.

England has also had one of the fastest reductions in the proportion of teachers aged over 50 in secondary education between 2005 and 2014. Schools Week has previously covered how over-50s are fleeing the classroom here.


3. Starting pay for teachers is lower than in most other OECD countries

The starting pay for teachers in England is 16 per cent lower than the OECD average. As Peter Sellen, chief economist at the EPI, put it: “At the point in their career that they work the longest hours, teachers have the lowest pay. Is this the right wage structure to help our young, stressed teachers remain positive?”

He suggested teacher retention might improve if starting salaries were higher and, while funding remains tight, increases thereafter were steadier.


4. Teachers who use technology “for class projects” work fewer hours per week

Teachers who make their pupils use technology for class projects in all or most lessons work 4.6 hours fewer per week than those who only occasionally adopt that approach, the EPI found.

This wasn’t directly related to marking or planning time, but seemed to correlate to the school’s culture or something as yet unidentified. Interestingly, ICT is also the one area teachers consistently ask for more continuous professional development (CPD) on.


5. Ofsted should focus on CPD and not workload

Sellen said the EPI findings on workload mean that, instead of focusing on workload, we should focus on the quality of CPD.

Not only is it more objective and easier to measure, he said, but the link between good CPD and unmanageable teacher workload could also make CPD a useful litmus test for how hard staff are having to work more broadly.

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  1. Very interesting article but no real surprises.

    53 years-old and have just left education after increasing worry and stress, pay freeze and incompetent management.

    I was unable to keep a balance between work and home – work always eroded my spare time. I accepted this because I was keen to give as much as possible.

    I recently had an in-house judgement made on a lesson – inadequate. The lesson was great and ticked all the boxes but the observer felt that some (recognised as problematic) students were not completely on task. The lesson was therefore given this judgement.

    Following this – “encouraged” to take part in “best in class” CPD which rehashed all earlier directives about outstanding practice.

    Low level “over your shoulder” episodes followed and I felt it was time to make way. However, I am making way for inexperienced, life-skill poor, low paid professionals just out of University with high ideals who, if things continue as they are, will gradually be bullied, cajoled and pressured into giving more and more with minimal mentoring and dismal “one-for-all” CPD.

    Everyone it seems is under pressure to perform; constantly, and unnecessarily, reminded of their responsibilities.

    It is the hardest but most rewarding career and I am so disappointed that I feel no longer needed. Unfortunately, it will become more and more a pathway to career suicide for most of those who will follow.

    • Crikey – i so feel for u! This must b all too common, the older, more experienced, wiser, teacher being over-looked and under-valued by a “points based”, quatitative style management system that doesn’t reward quality, focuses on results and therefore over-quantifies the whole job. What a shame that people like u r having to turn their back/being hounded out of the profession so shoddily for cheaper and possibly more flexible (read: “exploitable”) alternatives. I’m very sad.