Teachers in England work longest hours in Europe

Talis survey shows teachers in England working more than five years ago – and spend more time keeping order in class

Helen Ward

Teacher workload: Teachers in England are working longer hours than they were five years ago, according to Talis research

Teachers in England work more hours than anywhere else in Europe, a major new international survey shows.

The Teaching and Learning International Survey (Talis) reveals that secondary teachers in England put in 46.9 hours a week on average – the fourth-highest workload of the 48 countries and economies polled by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Only teachers in Japan, Kazakhstan and Alberta, Canada, did more.

And primary teachers clocked up even more hours, 48.3 per week, according to the survey – the second-highest workload, after Japan, of the 15 countries which polled primary teachers.

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Across Europe, secondary teachers worked on average 37.5 hours per week, with the average for all countries in the survey slightly higher at 38.3 hours per week. The highest workload was in Japan, where secondary teachers worked 56 hours per week on average, the lowest was in Georgia where they clocked in 25.3 hours.

Teachers' increasing workload

And the results show an increase in working hours in England since the last Talis survey in 2013, which found that secondary teachers worked 45.9 hours per week on average. Working hours for primary teachers in England were not surveyed in 2013.

Workload is one of the key drivers for teacher shortages, according to a survey carried out by the NEU teaching union earlier this year.

And the Talis survey also reveals that teacher shortages were a key issue for headteachers in England. 

More than 250,000 teachers and school leaders at 15,000 schools from 48 countries and economies were surveyed for Talis.

The survey also shows that around 20.1 hours of secondary teachers' time was spent teaching – up from 19.6 hours in 2013, while the amount of time spent planning had fallen from 7.8 hours  in 2013 to 7.4 hours in 2018 and general admin work had dropped slightly from 4 hours a week in 2013 to 3.8 hours a week in 2018.

And the research reveals that, during lesson time, teachers were spending more time keeping order than they were six years ago and therefore less time actually teaching.

The 2018 survey reveals that keeping order in the classroom took up 12.6 per cent of a typical lesson, compared with 11.4 per cent in 2013.

More than one in four (27.4 per cent) of secondary teachers said they lost quite a lot of time because of interruptions and 22.2 per cent had to wait “quite a long time” for pupils to quieten down at the start of a lesson.

In 2018, 79.9 per cent of lesson time was spent teaching and learning, compared with 81.5 per cent in 2013. The remaining lesson time (around 7 per cent) was spent on administrative tasks.

Education secretary Damian Hinds said: “These findings reflect many of the frustrations that I heard from teachers and heads when I first took on the role of education secretary and underline the importance of the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, that I launched in January of this year.

“We know that too many teachers are having to work too many hours each week on unnecessary tasks, which is why I have taken on a battle to reduce teachers’ workload so that they can focus on spending their time in the classroom doing what they do best – teaching.”

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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