Teachers forced to work part-time to manage their workload
Large, mounting workloads are one of the main factors blamed for causing the current teacher shortage in the UK. Yet, new research has revealed the lengths some teachers are willing to go just to remain in the profession…
The Department for Education (DfE) report, titled ‘Exploring teacher workload,’ compiles responses from 75 interviews with full- and part-time teachers. The key finding was that teachers feel ‘forced’ to work part-time in order to manage workloads – essentially, taking a pay cut just so they can enjoy their evenings and weekends.
Valentine Mulholland, head of policy for school leaders’ union NAHT, commented that the data “paints a bleak picture of the workload pressures on both teachers and school leaders.” She added that the situation demands a full “recovery plan” as opposed to just “tweaking at the edges,” Schools Week reports.
All part-time teachers said they had cut their hours to make their workloads more manageable, and had spent non-working weekdays completing administrative tasks. They considered this to be “unpaid planning, preparation and assessment time,” and worked around 40 hours per week despite being on part-time contracts.
Leaders, on the other hand, said managing part-time staff created more work for them, such as complicated timetabling. Yet, they also admitted that offering part-time hours helped them to retain top talent at their schools.
General secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton, said leaders have to “be able to adapt to people’s changing needs,” which would allow them to boost retention rates. However, he also acknowledged that “managing timetables to allow part-time working is a challenge.”
“It would help a great deal if school leaders were not also having to cope with balancing budgets under severe financial constraints and myriad other pressures which are difficult and time-consuming,” he added.
This data supports Eteach’s 2017-18 national teacher survey findings
that secondary teachers work an average 55 hours per week and primary teachers 59%, with 78% regularly taking work home at evenings and weekends.
The DfE’s report also unveiled that the majority of teachers want more training for promotion to senior leadership roles, even though professional development opportunities are typically hard to fit into the timetable.
Teachers who have recently graduated told the researchers that they want workload management to form part of their training. Meanwhile, experienced teachers would like to undergo more training when new topics are introduced to the curriculum, like computer coding at primary schools.
Overall, the DfE admitted that “support and professional development around teacher workload appeared to be limited.” This is obviously a huge concern and it’s a shame teachers feel forced to cut their hours and pay for the sake of staying in a job they love.
In your opinion, what needs to change so that teachers feel under less pressure to work part-time?