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.