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Teachers work nearly 11 hours a day, landmark workload survey reveals



Teachers are working an average of 54.4 hours a week – nearly 11 hours per day – the government’s first comprehensive survey into workload has revealed.

Primary classroom teachers and middle leaders work an average of over 55 hours, with secondary school teachers working more than 53 hours a week, the government’s long-awaited Teacher Workload Survey found.

However the working hours reported by senior leaders were even higher at 60 hours per week. Secondary school senior leaders worked 62-hour weeks – which equates to 12.4 hours a day.

The findings were “markedly higher” than the 45.9 hours per week recorded in the 2013 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), which measured the workload of secondary teachers.

The government report stated this suggests “some increase in workload has been seen between 2013 and 2016”. The government has stated it will now use the findings to “target our work at the areas of most concern”.

But Chris Keates, general secretary of NASUWT (pictured right), said: “Once again, the Government’s own data confirms that teachers and headteachers are dealing with unsustainable workload demands on a daily basis, and much of their time is being spent on activities which are either unnecessary or which could be undertaken by staff other than teachers.”

A total of 218 schools and 3,186 teachers completed the survey – the first of its kind. The survey, which will be carried out every two years, was agreed by the government as part of its response to the 2014 Workload Challenge.

Keates added despite the report’s delay, it still “cannot hide the inconvenient truth that the Government’s actions to date have failed to tackle the causes of excessive workload and working hours which are blighting the lives of teachers”.

The report also found a third of part-time teachers said 40 per cent of their total hours were worked outside of school hours – such as weekends or evenings.

Less experienced primary teachers also reported working a total of 18.8 hours per week out school time – two hours more than experienced colleagues.

There is no silver bullet to solve this

The analysis found that the individual experiences of teachers, for example how their performance is evaluated by their manager, had a greater impact on workload than school-level factors – such as school size.

The report stated: “The implication is that effective interventions to reduce workload would need to target teachers across the population of schools.”

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said the findings show the government “recognises the severity of the problem for teachers”, but questioned the action plan, also published today, as “unambitious”.

The plan included the opening of applications for the £75 million teaching and innovation fund – which education secretary Justine Greening announced last week.

But Bousted (pictured right) added: “The Government has failed to heed the warnings of their previous research about what drives workload – accountability, Ofsted inspections, and Government policy change.

“These things continue to be the major drivers of workload and there is little sign of a Government plan to effectively tackle the root causes of the problem.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said they have published a “clear action plan” setting out steps to tackle the issue.

That includes new guidance to encourage schools to hand teacher more opportunity to work flexibly, a poster and pamphlet to help schools address marking, planning and data management – and committed to a lead-in time of at least a year for schools to prepare for changes to the curriculum, qualifications or accountability.

A spokesperson said the survey reveals “we are right to focus on removing unnecessary workload related to marking, lesson planning and administration of data and we will use the findings to further target our work at the areas of most concern”.

But they added: “There is no silver bullet to solve this, and we don’t underestimate the challenge, which is why we want to continue to work with the profession to explore new and innovative ways to address it.”



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3 Comments

  1. Judy Gallagher

    Because I was teaching, I could not take notes simultaneously as I see nurses, doctors, and therapists doing. Take away my extended duties: breakfast duty, lunchroom, recess, and walking the children to the bus once they get into the routine, and then I will have more free time to keep up with IEPs and other stacks of paperwork and planning for the next day, and setting up science experiments, creating decorative/instructional materials, etc.

  2. C Burns

    Wrong, wrong, and WRONG! It is simple math. The student to teacher ratio is extremely unbalanced, has been for a long time and is getting worse. A first grade classroom should not have 27 students in it. Trying to meet the demands of so many with varying backgrounds, personal schema, developmental degree, and preparing for these needs, while continually restructuring, reteaching, and providing interventions for such a large diversified group, is the root of the problem. Teachers need to be valued and held in high esteem adequate to professionals with similar educational backgrounds. In an economy where the rising cost of absolutely everything usually determines an individual’s career choice, teaching is not at the top of the list. It needs to be more attractive, with better pay and smaller class sizes. It is as simple as that!

  3. The sad fact is that there is a badge of honor in the teaching profession for worker harder, even though their student success outcomes remain mediocre. With all the tools out there, professional educators must embrace the ones that are proven to advance student success outcomes, By doing so and changing paradigms from teaching to learning, they will work smarter, put in less hours and have bettered student success outcomes. But this makes too much sense for it to be collectively embraced?