WATCH: 'Your teachers are too busy to learn'

Andreas Schleicher, OECD's head of education, discusses what new Talis international research reveals about England

Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's head of education

Teachers in England are too busy working to do any learning themselves, the influential education chief of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has said.

Andreas Schleicher, head of education and skills at the OECD, told Tes that one of the main barriers for teachers in England wanting to take part in professional development was their work schedule.


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"There is clearly an issue about workload in England," Mr Schleicher said.

"Teachers don’t teach more than teachers in other countries but they do a lot more things beyond teaching, part of that keeps them too busy to learn, and access to high-quality professional development is often an issue."

Mr Schleicher spoke to Tes after the launch of the OECD's Teaching and Learning International Survey (Talis) in London today.

Talis research: teacher workload

The report, which is based on survey responses from 250,000 teachers in 48 countries about their work, shows that secondary teachers in England had the fourth longest working week in the world at 46.9 hours – which was the highest in Europe.

But it also reveals that teachers in England were not teaching much more than average – it is the out-of-classroom tasks that are creating the workload. Teachers in England said they spent around 20.1 hours a week teaching – almost identical to the OECD average of 20.6 hours.

Mr Schleicher added: "Teachers in high-performing countries also spend time out of the classroom but they typically spend it collectively: to do lesson study, to share good experiences, to engage in professional learning communities, to do collaborative work on things that teachers in England do in isolation for themselves which may then contribute to a very high degree of workload."

In England, 64.5 per cent of teachers said one of the barriers to taking part in training was a conflict with their work schedule, according to Talis data.

Mr Schleicher also said that another important issue for England highlighted in the report was that novice teachers were more likely to work in more challenging schools than less challenging schools.

Education secretary Damian Hinds has written a column for Tes today saying that he remains opposed to teachers facing unnecessary workload.

"We should not accept the fact that teachers work longer hours per week than almost all other countries involved in Talis, not on teaching, but on planning, marking and admin, including data," he has written.

And he points out action the government has taken including the publication of the workload-reduction toolkit, working with Ofsted to ensure staff workload is considered as part of a school's inspection judgement and launching the early career framework to give more support to teachers at the start of their careers.

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