UK teachers work 'some of the longest hours in the world'

Study of 35 countries finds British teachers work 51 hours a week, the fourth longest

John Roberts

Uk teachers are working more than 50 hours a week

British teachers are said to be working some of the longest hours in the world, according to a major new global survey.

Teachers in the UK who took part in the Global Teacher Status Index said they were working 50.9 hours a week – longer than anywhere else in the 35 country study apart from New Zealand, Singapore and Chile.

The poll also reveals that the British public underestimates how long the UK teachers work for.

When the British public was polled, they estimated the number of hours teachers work at 45.9 hours a week, almost a whole school day less per week.

And the index reveals that the British public overestimates how much teachers earn at the start of their career and that they feel new teachers should get a pay rise of around £7,500.

The Global Teaching Status Index (GTSI) aims to provide detailed information of how society views teachers across the 35 countries.

In all but six countries of the 35 countries polled in 2018, the general public underestimates – often considerably – the number of hours teachers work per week.

The public was asked: “On average, how many hours do you think full time primary and secondary school teachers work a week in term time (including work outside school such as marking and planning lessons)?"

Latin Americans underestimate teachers’ working hours more than any other, particularly in Peru (by 13 hours), Argentina (by 12.5 hours) and Panama (11.4 hours).

In both the UK and the US, the public underestimated teachers’ working hours by around five hours per week.

Reducing teacher workload is a major focus for the UK government.

This week the Department for Education has promised to help schools simplify the way teachers log incidents of poor behaviour as part of renewed offers to cut workload.

The move comes as the DfE published a report by the Workload Advisory Group, which says that teachers can suffer from anxiety and burnout because of an increasing expectation on schools to use detailed pupil data.

The report calls for schools to not have more than two or three attainment data collection points a year.

Education secretary Damian Hinds has written a joint letter with Ofsted and other organisations to school leaders to repeat his commitment to tackling teacher workload.

Commenting on the GTSI findings Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: "Teachers work a lot harder than people realise. And they do it because they are committed public servants. The societies which value their teachers highest are the ones atop the international league tables.

“On a good day, teaching is one of the most rewarding careers imaginable. The trouble is, there just aren’t enough good days. For many teachers and school leaders, the enormous privilege of helping young people learn and grow can be outweighed by the pressure and workload of the profession they’ve chosen.

“Not only do teachers in this country work longer hours than their peers around the world, they have also been forced to accept years of real-terms pay cuts. Teachers’ average hourly pay has fallen by 15 per cent over the last decade.

"And they are working under the pressure of an ever more punitive accountability system where one bad year of test results can destroy a career."

The GTSI also reveals that countries which have higher teacher status are more likely to record higher scores in the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) rankings.

According to today's findings, overall teacher status has risen in the UK relative to other countries polled, since the survey was last conducted in 2013.

Then the UK ranked 10 out of 21 countries surveyed, and of those 21 countries, it now ranks seventh, leapfrogging countries like the US and the Netherlands.

Of the 35 countries polled for the 2018 index, it ranked 13th.

Sunny Varkey, the founder of the Varkey Foundation, which runs the GTSI,  said: "This index finally gives academic proof to something that we've always instinctively known - the link between the status of teachers in society and the performance of children in school.

"Now we can say beyond doubt that respecting teachers isn't only an important moral duty - it's essential for a country's educational outcomes.”

The global survey polled 1,000 members of the public and up to 200 teachers in each of the 35 countries.

The 35 countries were: Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, USA, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Ghana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Panama, Peru, Russia, Taiwan and Uganda.

They were chosen based on their performance in Pisa and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study assessments to represent each major continent and to represent different strands of education systems.



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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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