Working hours soar for heads

19th August 2005 at 01:00
Primary schools are reaping the greatest benefits from workforce reforms as the working week for secondary heads, deputies and assistants soars, official figures reveal.

Primary heads are now working two hours and 42 minutes less than they were last year, while the time their teachers work has been cut by an hour and 36 minutes.

The average working week for a primary head is 52 hours 54 minutes - almost 10 hours shorter than their secondary counterparts, and almost three hours less than primary deputy heads.

The School Teachers' Review Body figures show secondary heads have the longest working week, up from 60 hours 48 minutes last year to 62 hours 36 minutes.

But their deputies and assistants have seen the biggest increase in work, with a four-hour hike to a weekly average of 58 hours and six minutes.

The figures are based on a snapshot survey of 2,080 teaching staff carried out in March. It shows slight cuts in hours for secondary and special-school teachers.

The findings will come as a relief to the signatories of the 2003 workforce deal, designed to reduce teacher workloads. Last year's poll, the first since the first phase of the agreement in September 2003, revealed that the hours worked by primary heads and classroom teachers had risen.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "The changes are now beginning to have the desired effect on workload. There is, however, no room for complacency." David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said he did not doubt the accuracy of the poll, but that it did not tally with the messages he had received from primary heads.

They said that providing cover for the 10 per cent non-contact time guaranteed teachers under the workforce agreement had increased their workload. "Their hours are still excessive but it may well be that the silent majority are getting on with workforce reforms in a way which does not worsen their conditions," he said.

The survey shows that all teachers spent at least an average of 5.7 per cent of their week on general administration, despite the supposed transfer of more than 20 administrative tasks away from teachers. The figure rose to 10.2 per cent for primary teachers, down from 11.9 per cent last year.

Next month, the third and final phase of the workforce deal is supposed to free up a tenth of classroom teachers' working week to give them time for planning, preparation and assessment.

The survey found teachers already spend much more of their working week on such duties.

In March, primary, secondary and special-school teachers spent an average of 27.6, 29.6 and 24.3 per cent, respectively, on lesson preparation and marking. All were up on last year.

A Department for Education and Skills spokesperson said workforce reforms were turning the tide on workload. Teachers' pay and conditions are not devolved to the Welsh Assembly.


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