Heads and teachers working longer despite workload push

Key government workforce survey reveals longer working weeks, less job satisfaction and more anxiety

Key government workforce survey reveals longer working weeks, less job satisfaction and more anxiety

29 Feb 2024, 18:10

School leaders and teachers now work even more hours than last year despite a push by ministers to reduce workload, a government survey has found. 

The latest wave of the working lives of teachers and leaders survey shows full-time leaders’ average working week in 2023 was 58.2 hours – over 11 hours a day – up from 57.5 in 2022.

The survey polled more than 10,000 workers, and found full-time teachers’ average hours were 52.4 per week, up from 51.9 in 2022. 

It comes after the DfE assembled a workload reduction taskforce with an aim of reducing the average working week by five hours.

Teachers and leaders’ job satisfaction has also plummeted. Only 46 per cent were satisfied “most of the time”, compared to 58 per cent last year. Nineteen percent rarely had satisfaction. 

Nine in 10 teachers and leaders did not feel valued by policymakers, with 71 per cent disagreeing that the school inspection regime provided a “fair assessment” of school performance. 

But 65 per cent did feel valued by their school.

Only 20 per cent of teachers and leaders were satisfied with their salary compared to 26 per cent last year. Just 7 per cent were happy with the changes to teachers’ pay. 

Teachers reported more negative views on pupil behaviour – with 49 per cent of teachers rating it as good or above, down from 58 per cent last year. 

Nine in 10 are stressed at work

When asked to rate their anxiety the previous day, 44 per cent of teachers and leaders answered “high”. The figure is in line with the one reported in 2022 (43 per cent). 

The study shows a higher proportion of teachers and leaders reported more negative impacts of their job on personal life and wellbeing.

Eighty-eight per cent said they experienced stress at work, up 2 per centage points on the previous year.

The proportion of those who found their job did not leave them with enough time for their personal lives rose from 65 per cent to 73 per cent.

Meanwhile almost two thirds (63 per cent) of respondents said their roles have negatively affected their mental health. The figure stood at 56 per cent the year before. 

The DfE said its survey also revealed “a majority of teachers and leaders agreed that their manager and school support their wellbeing”.

But more than one in five reported that their managers did not consider their work-life balance or support their wellbeing.

Most leavers will not return to sector

More than a third of those surveyed (36 per cent) indicated they were considering leaving the state school sector in the next 12 months. This represents an increase from 25 per cent in 2022.

High workload was the common reason behind their desire to leave teaching, with 94 per cent saying it was an important factor.

More than 80 per cent also cited stress and “teachers’ views not being valued by policymakers like the government”. A further 63 per cent answered “dissatisfaction with pay”. 

More than 440 participants in the first working lives survey in 2022 had left the sector. The most common reasons for moving jobs were high workload (80 per cent) and stress or wellbeing (74 per cent). 

Half of those still in employment had moved into jobs offering a lower salary. 
When asked how likely they were to return to the sector, two-thirds leavers indicated they were unlikely to.

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  1. Patrick Obikwu

    Teacher morale is plummeting fast,
    As we all wonder how long it will last?
    Student absence, misbehaviour and violence is rising high,
    And everyone is asking why?

    Students act as if school is a game,
    Yet teachers are the ones society blame.
    Teachers are denigrated, treated as slaves,
    Toiling unappreciated to early graves.

    Teachers are leaving at the speed of light,
    No respite, remedy or solution in sight.
    Teachers are being paid such a pittance,
    So new graduates are keeping their distance.

    Teaching once the noblest profession,
    Now is being looked down on with revulsion.
    Many education managers have no clear direction,
    But this nobody will dare to mention.

    So many education leaders do not to have a clue,
    Of why, how or what to do?
    They smile and praise themselves as if all is fine,
    Yet glaring and disturbing is the decline.

    No one seems to know what they are doing,
    So society does not know where it is going.
    Those who know do not have any say,
    On how best we can arrest this decay.

    There appears to be so much confusion,
    To what is a very simple solution?
    Teachers deserve much more respect, reward and appreciation,
    Not assaults, insults and exploitation.

    Teachers are pillars of our foundation,
    So do not deserve denigration.
    In a world where knowledge is key,
    Let us ensure teachers are free.

    (Education Leadership, Learning Strategist, School and Youth Development, Critical Theorist, Entrepreneur)
    MA (Ed); P.G. Cert (Dev. Ed. & Global Learning); UK QTS (Science); Adv. Cert. (Sports Sc.); B.Sc (Hons) Biochemistry

  2. At the school level, we do all we can to mitigate stress for our teachers.
    However the stress burdens are shouldered by school leaders who are in the main strong and resilient until pressure is put on them by circumstances beyond their control.
    This is the main cause of undue stress.
    We should not have our workload increased due to these factors.
    Wider accountability must be working together to support the greater achievements of schools.
    Educational standards for all our children is the core purpose of our education system.
    Let’s not forget this.