Teachers clock up pound;7bn of unpaid labour

1st March 2013 at 00:00
They do more overtime than any other public sector workers

Teachers work more overtime than any other public sector workers, equating to pound;7 billion of free labour for schools a year, according to an analysis of official statistics carried out by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The study reveals that 55.4 per cent of primary teachers routinely work overtime, clocking up an average of 12.6 hours each week. In the secondary sector, 61.2 per cent work overtime on a regular basis at an average of 10 hours a week.

The TUC has calculated that, in 2012, teachers worked a total of 325 million unpaid hours, worth pound;7 billion in total. This far outstrips the overtime of workers in the health, legal, media and business sectors.

Managers and directors of financial institutions worked the most overtime, with 60.5 per cent racking up an average of 11.4 hours a week. But their average salary of pound;70,000 is twice as high as that of classroom teachers.

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the NUT, said teachers are "manifestly overworked" and that their jobs are becoming "increasingly stressful".

"Michael Gove must understand that unless this onslaught against teachers' pay, pensions and working conditions stops then strike action is inevitable," he added.

The union's national executive was due to meet yesterday to decide whether to go on strike before Easter.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said the figures highlight "the huge amounts of unpaid overtime teachers do every year - and how much the economy, schools and students benefit from this additional commitment".

"While most staff don't mind doing a few extra hours, working time needs to be properly managed and employers mustn't pressurise their staff into doing more for less," she added. "A long-hours culture is bad for workers' health and family life, whether the hours are paid or not."

In September, Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw suggested that teachers who are "out the gate at 3 o'clock" should be paid less than their more industrious colleagues.

Education secretary Michael Gove has repeatedly voiced his support for the school day being extended. In January 2012, he said: "We are all in favour of longer school days, and potentially shorter summer holidays."

When asked about the likely impact on teachers, he replied: "If you love your job then there is, I think, absolutely nothing to complain about in making sure you have more of a chance to do it well."

But the new figures suggest that, for many teachers, putting in the equivalent of an extra working day after hours each week is par for the course.

The statistics came as "no surprise" to Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union. "Excessive workload and working hours are consistently raised by teachers as their key concerns. (The figures) expose as a disgraceful travesty claims by ministers that teachers clock off early," she said.

The NUT and NASUWT are engaged in industrial action short of a strike as part of a dispute over teachers' pay, pensions and working conditions. Teachers are instructed not to attend meetings or respond to emails outside their directed working hours.

Ms Keates said that the action "is designed to release teachers from these excessive burdens, but what they need is a secretary of state who recognises that a world-class education system cannot be sustained on the back of teacher burnout."

Original headline: `Overworked' staff clock up pound;7bn of unpaid labour

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