EIS counts the hours

18th February 2000 at 00:00
Workload survey shows the average working week is soaring because of Higher Still and 5-14.

CURRICULUM changes such as the heavily criticised 5-14 programme and Higher Still are the chief culprits in increasing teacher workload, a specially commissioned survey of more than 1,000 Educational Institute of Scotland members has revealed.

The average EIS member puts in a 42-hour week but a third work more than 45 hours and 15 per cent, particularly senior managers, 50 hours or more. More than nine out of 10 do an average of 3.5 hours at weekends and most do at least 10 hours outside the normal Monday to Friday school day.

Primary teachers do slightly more hours during the week, an average of 39.3, against 37.4 for secondary teachers.

As a key element of its submission to the McCrone inquiry into teacher pay and conditions, the union invited the Scottish Council for Research in Education and System Three to survey work patterns in a sample week in January.

More than nine out of 10 reported an increase in workload over the past decade, largely because of what they are asked to teach in the classroom. Those who had been in the profession the longest noticed most change.

Even over the past five years, members complain about significant changes. Seven out of 10 spend more time on preparation and planning while more than eight out of 10 say record-keeping and reporting have become far greater burdens.

Just under half (46 per cent) also felt they spent more time on marking, although one in three reported no increase.

More than four out of 10 report noticeable changes in other non-teaching activities, while 58 per cent say they spend about the same amount of time teaching.

Secondary staff are in front of classes for an average of 16.6 hours a week, against 20 hours for primary teachers. Unpromoted staff do an average of 20.3 hours, middle management 16.5 and senior managers 10.9.

Ronnie Smith, the EIS's general secretary, said the reasons for the growth in workload were largely a reflection of the huge changes in what is taughtin schools.

"The new 5-14 curriculum and the introduction of Higher Still have placed great burdens on schools and teachers. Integral to these programmes are a greater degree of marking of papers by individual teachers and reporting of information to parents and pupils. It is hardly surprising that these are areas where teachers report significant increases in workload in recent years," Mr Smith said.

He called for measures to ensure teachers were protected from unreasonable impositions. "The survey results give an independent and authoritative basis to what teachers have been saying informally for a long time but recently with increasing concern," Mr Smith said.

A recent survey by the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association produced similar findings. The average week for its members was 41 hours 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, the Professional Association of Teachers this week pinned the blame for increasing workload on the "constant curriculum reorganisation based on bureaucratic guidelines from local authorities or the Scottish Executive". Development planning was one example.

"In addition, there is a host of extras, reports, filing, record-keeping, development of materials, form filling, ICT developments, etc," the association states.

The surge in workload levels had led to increased stress, lack of motivation, loss of self-esteem and demoralisation.


* Teaching in class: 20 hours for primary staff and 16.6 hours for secondary staff.

* An average of eight hours on preparation and planning, with marking taking a further 2.9 hours.

* An hour a week goes on

in-service and planned activities, while less than an hour is devoted to pastoral and related activities.

* The average time spent on record-keeping and reporting is

1.5 hours, with nursery staff top

of the league on 3.3 hours.

* One in five staff spends some time on extracurricular activities, usually less than an hour.

* Nearly half of staff spend time on other non-teaching activities - on average 2.6 hours.

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