Teachers work a 54-hour week, DfE survey finds

24th February 2017 at 13:38
Teacher workload
School leaders average a 60-hour working week, according to Department for Education research

Classroom teachers and middle leaders are working an average 54-hour week, according to the government’s latest teacher workload survey released today.

The Department for Education research shows that senior leaders are working even longer hours, reporting an average 60-hour working week.

The poll is part of the DfE’s “Workload Challenge”, which was launched by former education secretary Nicky Morgan in 2014.

The department surveyed 3,186 teachers in 218 randomly selected schools, asking them how much they worked in the full working week prior to survey, including the weekend.

Some 93 per cent of respondents said that workload in their school was at least a “fairly serious problem",  and more than half (52 per cent) said it was as a "very serious problem".

More than three-quarters of teachers were dissatisfied with the number of hours they usually worked. Most disagreed that “they can complete their workload in their contracted hours, have an acceptable workload and that they can achieve a good balance between their work and private life”.

The average weekly working hours for all classroom teachers and middle leaders was 54.4 hours.

Primary classroom teachers and middle leaders self-reported higher hours – working 55.5-hour week – than teachers in secondary schools, who said they worked 53.5 hours on average.

Secondary school leaders work longest hours

However, secondary school senior leaders reported even longer working hours, working 62.1 hours per week compared with the 59.8 worked by their primary school counterparts. The average for all senior leaders was 60 hours a week.

Almost a quarter of full-time teachers and roughly one third of part-time teachers reported that 40 per cent of their total working hours were worked outside of school hours.

The findings come after TES reported that more than a quarter of senior school leaders don’t expect to be in education beyond the next one to two years, with workload cited as the factor which could most persuade them to stay.

A TUC report today also shows that teachers work more unpaid overtime than nearly anyone else in the country.

According to the DfE’s analysis, “teacher-level factors” such as “perceptions of performance evaluation by management and school-level factors such as the phase and the size of the school” influence the hours worked by teachers.

However, it said that the “largest source of variation” in workload related to factors linked to individual teachers – such as how long they have been in the profession – rather than factors related to schools.

Commenting on the DfE’s survey, Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT union, said: “The delay in the publication of data from the 2016 survey of teachers’ working hours 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.”

'Driving teachers from the profession'

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL union, said: “The growing imbalance between workload and reward is driving teachers from the profession and harming the education of children.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “We want to free teachers up to do what they do best – inspire all young people to fulfil their potential – and give them more time to spend on their own development and the skills they need in the classroom.‎ That is why we have worked with the unions, teachers and Ofsted to challenge unhelpful practices that add to teacher workload.

“We have published a clear action plan setting out the steps we will take to help tackle this issue, which includes a programme of targeted support for schools. 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.

“The results of our survey tell us that 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. We have also published new guidance for teachers to help support better opportunities for flexible working, and revised staffing and employment advice to help school leaders save time and reduce costs.”

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