teacher hours 270217

DfE survey shows teachers are working 54 hours a week

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.

Survey results

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 issues

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.

Other findings

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”.

10 thoughts on “DfE survey shows teachers are working 54 hours a week

  1. I think every teacher in every school should have to monitor their time for one week. It would highlight the unsustainable demands being made.
    A very real problem is minimised by it being viewed as ‘whinging teacher’s’. The culture needs to change, and that can only happen by government, ofsted, leaders taking the concerns seriously and wanting to make changes that allow teachers to do the thing they do best; teach.
    Ofsted should make criteria for expectations very clear, so schools don’t need to ‘interpret’ their desires and thereby place unrealistic expectations on staff. Instead ofsted should explicitly and publicly scorn the use of excessive marking practice and policy – they should actively seek to help shape policy which supports the students without being time consuming for the staff. Ofsted should interview a cross section of staff in each school to see the working hours across departments and career stages.
    Until leaders in school are made accountable for the excessive work load, nothing will change, as they will continue to assert the pressure is ‘necessary for the good of the children’. This emotional retaric is what keeps teachers working excessive hours, at the expense of their health and their families.

  2. I am now a retired teacher but one who, after 43 years in the profession would still like to return. However, because I was overseas for 21 years, my experience and accumulated skills seem to count for nothing in the UK. Although I have experience in the UK as a teacher, HOD (SENCo) and HOY as well as being a Deputy Head and Acting Head whilst overseas, I am seemingly unemployable in the UK. Why are teachers with a plethora of experience, yet past their alleged sell by date, overlooked at a time when the country needs teachers. Are the authorities scared we just might have ideas which do not fit the system? Renew and revitalise people like me not reject us.

  3. We do not get a lunch break or a break. Often we are expected to be in by 8.30 for meetings and teach through from 9 till 12 with no break timetabled in. There can be 30 minutes between classes. By the time you have done the admin it is ready to start the bext class. Teachers are suffering mental health issues. They have to perform not the students.

  4. Why doesn’t anybody help teachers? They surely work more hours than any worker is supposed to work by law ! What are the unions and educational authorities doing? Teachers leave the job after a few years, they cannot stand the pressure, the workload, the lack of quality or even personal and family time. It simply is not fair. Pupils have their rights but so do teachers. They have the right to have breaks and lunch times without students being around. They have the right to be ill, yet when they are they must prepare lessons for the cover teachers : it is outrageous! being in bed with a temperature you must still be sending lesson plans and activities. The same happens if you go on a school trip : you are working , looking after pupils, yet you must prepare lessons for a fortnight ! No wonder there is a shortage of teachers and many of them leave the schools after 4 or 5 years, just when they have acquired proper teaching skills and the necessary experience to be great professionals . A shame.

  5. I agree with Ian Hicks, having taught abroad in international schools for 23 years I have found, on returning to the UK, that my experiences are not valued. My salary is the same here as it was in Asia but hours are longer and tax and the cost of living are much higher – my waģes barely cover my rent and I am living off my savings. I work an average of 55 hours a week but as a specialist subject teacher I regularly stay in school to host events and on those days can be 14 hours out of the house. I don’t have time for my own children! My working day begins at 7:30 as clubs begin at 8:15am – before that emails and voicemails from ever-pushy parents pertaining to the day have to be sent or answered and the classroom set up for practical work. In addition to classwork I manage a team of 8 peripatetic teachers, which is a full time job in its own right. Holidays are for report writing and catching up with admin. I used to feel frustrated that the paperwork was getting in the way of the children but now I’m stressed because the children are preventing me from keeping up with the paperwork! Time for me and my nearly 30 years of experience to get out.

  6. I have been teaching for twenty years now and work three days a week in order to have some time for me and my family. However, I spend one day at home planning and preparing. This often spills over into the weekend. I feel morale at my school is particularly low with all of the staff just constantly chasing their tails trying to do the basic requirements of marking and managing a classroom. I work with great people in a great school but working part time is the only thing that keeps me reasonably sane. Expectations and goal posts for teachers are constantly being changed and harder to achieve despite all of the hard work we put in and you just become more and more demoralised.

  7. Salary and working hours must go together. True, holidays are longer than many other jobs, but most other professionals are paid for overtime, and teachers rarely can take the whole of the holiday as holiday. (interesting to note that Medics typically have 7 weeks holiday per year). New teachers entering the profession are unlikely to be paid enough to pay off the loan they have taken out to attain the compulsory qualifications. Until recently solicitors working on what was legal aid (government paid fees) were paid more per hour waiting time than most state school teachers were paid for teaching. The deterioration in the profession is the result of actions by several governments of all flavours. The future is looking very bleak for the country unless conditions are significantly improved.

  8. If I had no holidays at all in a year I would be averaging around 45 hours per week for 52 weeks of the year if I add all of my term time and holiday working hours.This is at an idependant school as an NQT, so potentially less hours than if I was at a state school. This would mean that I am paid £9.61 an hour and get no holiday pay if I was on the minimum NQT pay (which I’m not). Its understandable as to why many people don’t stay in teaching for long if these are the working conditions, where weekends and evenings are taken up by school work, not a personal life. I’m at an age where kids may be considered, but from my point of view it wouldn’t be right for me to have kids, as I would have no time to bring them up. I’m not suggesting that I don’t enjoy my job or am thinking about leaving, but I was paid more in my previous career as a sales executive for 40 hours per week and 5 weeks holiday a year, which involved far less stress and was a far easier job to do.

  9. Two years ago I was forced into leaving a job I loved because the school was taken of by an academy chain and experienced teachers were too expensive to keep. We all told we were incompetent and were being forced into capability. Our average working weeks for the 12 months in the academy were 80 hours a week and that still wasn’t enough.
    It has taken me 2 years to get my confidence back and be able to enjoy teaching again.

  10. I know – it is absolutely insane. I have been teaching since 1988 and still enjoy the job, but actual “teaching” is a minority part of my job. Ever more planning and data is required and for what? All female teachers over 50 can, it seems, be tossed out at a moment’s notice, with caring, experienced teachers being labelled as “incompetent”. The whole system is just so flawed, hypocritical and unfair that it just turns my stomach.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>