A union has rejected calls to demand a 35-hour working week for teachers, after members warned it would expose them to “public scrutiny and ridicule”.
The NASUWT conference instead called for union leaders to “develop a clear, focused campaign highlighting teachers’ working hours”.
The campaign could include action short of strike action to put downward pressure on working hours, and escalating strike action in schools to secure "a reasonable number of hours each week".
It came as one delegate said some teachers are moving to part time contracts to fit in all their work.
Sean Taylor, of Central and South Warwickshire, this morning told the conference: “I have seen teachers going part time just so they can fit in what they need to do. They are still working full time, but just being paid for part time.”
Keith Page, of North Tyneside, said he proposed the motion supporting a working hours campaign after a similar initiative in his area achieved positive results.
He said a survey of local teachers had revealed “a significant number” were working in excess of 80 hours in a normal week.
He said schools took action to reduce workload after being presented with this evidence.
However, delegates rejected an amendment from Colin Collis, of Norfolk, that would have reiterated a policy passed in 2001 calling for a maximum 35-hour working week.
Supporting the amendment, Colin Jackson from Norfolk, said he had chosen to work as a supply teacher, with reduced income, to reduce his hours.
He added that as a diabetic, being asked to work during his lunch time would have “a negative impact on the rest of my day”.
Ryan Foster, from South East Surrey, said: “Teachers have for a long time been viewed as having an easy job. I disagree with that. We work very long hours to get the best for all our pupils.”
However, he cautioned that calls for a 35-hour working week would expose teachers to “public scrutiny and ridicule” from "normal workers" who work 47 weeks a year.
He was backed by John Godkin, of South Derbyshire, who said: “I think it’s going to be quite hard to win hearts and minds if you put a 35-hour limit on. I think it would be unworkable.
“I think it would give more ammunition to parents and government who already say we have longer holidays than they have.”