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Teachers in England work some of the longest hours in the world, report finds

Teachers in England work longer hours than their counterparts in almost every other country in the world, a major international survey has revealed.

According to the Teaching and Learning International Survey published today, teachers in English schools clock up 51 hours per week on average. This covers tasks such as lesson planning, marking and attending meetings, as well as time spent in the classroom.

Teaching time adds up to less than 20 hours per week, with paperwork and administration tasks taking four hours. In addition, the average secondary school teacher spends almost eight hours planning lessons, and six hours marking students’ work, according to the figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Separate figures in the report reveal that teachers in England work more hours than their peers in all but two of the 34 countries which took part in the survey, Japan and Singapore, and seven hours longer than the international average.

Michael Davidson, the OECD’s head of early childhood and schools, said that while England’s teachers spend a similar length of time in the classroom to those in other countries, their time is increasingly taken up on other tasks.

“They are spending slightly more time on marking and preparing for lessons, spending slightly more time on administrative things, so it’s the little bits that are added on that are adding up to this higher average,” he said.

“We’re arguing teachers need time to prepare, time for collaborative activities, and some of that’s outside the classroom, so you need to have time to spend on that. Teachers say that, where they’re wanting more professional development, the biggest barrier is they can’t find time in the work schedule to cope. They do need some cushion.”

Christine Blower (pictured), general secretary of the NUT union, said the England’s figures were “high by international standards, especially compared with Finland – a high performing country where teachers’ average hours are 32 per week.”

“Teachers in England also reported spending more hours on non-face-to-face teaching tasks such as planning, marking and general administrative work,” she added. The union will next month hold a one-day strike over workload, pay and pensions.

In Japan, according to the survey, teachers work for an average of 58 hours per week, the highest of any country. Globally, teachers report spending about 80 per cent of their time on teaching and learning, but a quarter said they lose at least 30 per cent of their time to classroom disruptions and administrative tasks.

Pamela Sammons, a professor of education at the University of Oxford, said the figures confirmed the “intensity and complex demands of teaching in schools in most countries”.

Related links:

'Unsustainable hours': a growing global threat - March 2014

Teacher survey will reveal 'shocking' workload, union predicts - February 2014

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