The latest Department for Education results released this week reveal the extent of teacher workload, based on a survey administered in March last year. The DfE ‘Workload Challenge’ aimed to identify unnecessary and unproductive activities.
245 schools agreed to take part, from which over 3,186 teachers (34%) completed the survey based on one specific week that month.
The survey revealed an average teacher working week of 54.4 hours, with primary teacher hours being marginally higher at 55.5 weekly than the 53.5 hours in secondary. Leadership self-reported an average of 60 hours: 61.2 in secondary schools compared to 59.8 in primary schools.
Workload was deemed to be ‘a fairly serious problem’ by 93% of staff surveyed and over three quarters of respondents were dissatisfied with their working hours. When asked if they could complete their work within contracted hours and achieve a work-life balance, most ‘strongly disagreed’.
The biggest culprits in sucking up teacher time are data collection (56%), marking (53%) and planning and preparation (38%). Teachers of all age groups reported an incredible 2.5 hours a week spent on recording, inputting and analysing data.
The survey results also revealed that:
– A quarter of full time teachers reported that 40% of their work was done outside of hours (evenings, early mornings and weekends).
– Teachers with less than six years’ experience reported 57.5 hours worked a week, some four hours a week more than teachers with 6-10 years’ under their belts. A further hour dropped off for teachers with more than 11 years in the trade.
– On average, classroom teachers and middle leaders spend 21.6 hours per week teaching, that’s 40% of their working week. Primary teachers spent three hours more per week teaching than their secondary counterparts.
– Primary and secondary school teachers spend around 33 hours per week on non-teaching tasks: primarily (a) individual lesson planning and resourcing and (b) marking. Teachers from both phases reported that they spend too much time on planning, marking and admin. Four out of five primary teachers said they spend ‘too much time’ planning and resourcing, compared to 59% of secondary teachers. Interestingly, fewer teachers in schools judged Ofsted ‘outstanding’ (71%) reported ‘too much’ or ‘far too much’ time spent on marking compared to schools that require improvement (78%).
Interestingly, 22% of leaders in Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ schools reported that their school has a teacher workload committee compared to only 9% of schools rated ‘good and ‘requires improvement’.
It is worth noting that only 34% of surveyed teachers responded to the online questions – which indicates that the extent of the problem may be greater, if those who declined did so due to lack of time.
Ongoing teacher shortage
The report comes a week after Neil Carmichael of the Education Select Committee challenged the government to put a long term plan in place to tackle the teacher shortage, citing workload as the main reason for attrition levels.
A report by the Trades Union Congress today also confirmed that teachers work 12.1 hours unpaid per week, with more than half of teachers working excessive hours for free, an increase of 0.2 hours in a year. This makes teaching the worst industry for unpaid overtime. TUC General Secretary Francis O’Grady commented: “Make a stand today, take your full lunch break and go home on time”.
About the author
Katie Newell BA(Hons) PGCE is an ex-primary school teacher, Head of Maths, Head of Year five and languages specialist. Katie qualified in Psychology at Liverpool then specialised in Primary Languages for her PGCE at Reading. Before teaching, Katie was a financial commentator and is now the Content Manager for eteach.com and fejobs.com. Katie feels passionately that teachers are the unsung heroes of society; that opening minds to creative timetabling could revolutionise keeping women in teaching, and that a total change to pupil feedback is the key to solving the work life balance issue for the best job in the world.