Teaching time higher than average – even with cut

Scottish teachers' time in class is set to remain above average, even with cut of 1.5 hours a week promised by the government

Emma Seith

Teaching time higher than average in Scotland – even with promised cut

Scottish teachers will still spend more time in front of classes on average than their European counterparts, even when the Scottish government delivers its promise to cut class-contact time.

An international comparison of education systems published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) today shows that Scottish teachers in primary and secondary schools currently spend, on average, 855 hours a year teaching.

The Scottish government has pledged to cut that by 1.5 hours per week – a total reduction of 57 hours per year, given that Scottish teachers work 38 weeks of the year.

However, even if Scottish teachers' class-contact time is reduced to 798 hours a year, school staff will still be teaching for more than the average among the 38 OECD countries, as well as the average for the 22 European Union countries that are also members of the OECD, including the likes of Finland, France and Germany.


Background: SNP manifesto blunder over class-contact time creates a stir

Related: Teaching time way above average in Scotland

Opinion: Four ways to transform Scottish education, including slashing class-contact time


The average time primary teachers spend in class for the OECD countries is 791 hours; in lower secondary teachers spend an average of 723 hours teaching; and in upper secondary, 685 hours.

When it comes to the 22 EU countries, the average time teachers in primary spend teaching is 738 hours; in lower secondary it is 660 hours; and in upper secondary it is 629 hours.

Teachers in Scotland spend more time teaching

The figures are contained in the OECD’s Education at a Glance report, published this morning.

The main purpose of Education at a Glance is to provide an authoritative compilation of key international comparisons of education statistics.

The report analyses the education systems of the 38 OECD member countries, as well as Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

In Finland primary teachers spend 673 hours a year teaching; lower secondary teachers spend 589 hours a year teaching; and upper secondary teachers spend 548 hours a year teaching.

In Ireland primary teachers spend 909 hours a year teaching; and lower and upper secondary teachers spend 704 hours a year teaching.

In Estonia – which has impressed in recent times with its performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) global education rankings – primary teachers spend 592 hours a year teaching; lower secondary teachers spend 609 hours teaching; and upper secondary 574 hours.

Other indicators in the report include: public and private spending on education; the earnings advantage of education; entry to and graduation from tertiary education; statutory and actual salaries of school heads; class sizes, and teacher salaries.

The report says that teacher starting salaries in Scotland are higher than the OECD average, but that maximum salaries are lower than the OECD average.

The report says that “this results from relatively flat/compressed salary scales”.

This school year the new post of "lead teacher" has been introduced in Scotland. The idea behind the new role – which will command a salary of more than £47,000 a year – is to provide a promotion route for teachers who want to further their careers but who do not want to move into school management.

However, the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association has said the vision for the new role has been “watered down” and it will not take off without funding and clear direction from the Scottish government.

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

Latest stories