Teachers do the most unpaid overtime

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The NUT says the scale of teachers’ unpaid overtime is “untenable”, after research showed that they work more extra unpaid hours than any other sector.

The TUC’s research was published to mark ‘Work Your Proper Hours Day’, when staff are urged to take a proper lunch break and leave work on time. But with some teachers working almost 13 hours extra per week this seems unlikely to happen.

The TUC’s figures showed that over 37% of all school staff worked unpaid overtime last year and:

  • over 61% of primary teachers worked unpaid overtime, averaging almost 13 extra hours a week
  • 57.5% of secondary teachers worked unpaid overtime, averaging 12.5 extra hours a week.


Chris Keates from the NASUWT said that the research proves that the idea that teachers finish work at 3.30 is a “myth”, politics.co.uk reports. “These figures show that teachers are being scandalously exploited and their lives blighted by excessive workload, leaving them exhausted and stressed. Urgent action needs to be taken to end this unacceptable situation which is contributing to the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention.”

The scale of this unpaid overtime is “untenable”, according to NUT’s Christine Blower. “Much of teachers’ excessive workload is as a result of government education policies and initiatives, including the totally out-of-control accountability systems,” she said. “Working weekends and long into the evenings under such intense scrutiny and pressure is detrimental to the health, family and social life of teachers and is clearly bad for education.”

Thousands of teachers responded to the government’s Workload Challenge and the DfE said they had demonstrated the causes of unnecessary workload. In response, the government has launched a ‘new deal’ and pledged to monitor progress by tracking teacher workload.

How much unpaid overtime do you work and do you feel you are being “scandalously exploited” because of it? Share your views with the Eteach community!

26 thoughts on “Teachers do the most unpaid overtime

  1. I am only a TA and it is not only teachers that work unpaid overtime. My hours are 8.30/3.30 but i actually work 7.30/4.30 most days, so that is 10 hours unpaid overtime. This means i am working a whole week for nothing over the month. So i think they should look at what TA hours of work are. If i don’t do these hours i would never fir my work load in a day.

  2. I was doing at least 65 hours a week and when I calculated my pay as a result of those hours. It turned out that I was earning around £1.50 an hour. Working as a checkout assistant would pay more and I would get a discount on my groceries!
    The teaching culture is wrong and you are expected to do these hours. After three years of teaching, I ha e left this profession I loved and I now work in the civil service. I was shocked how civil servants (although they have their problems) are given TOIL for extra hours they work.

    The system is wrong and they are losing good teachers who are having to choose between carrying non an impossible life or leaving. Absolutely wrong.
    Teachers cannot have a healthy work life balance, especially primary school teachers. What will it take to change the system??

  3. I have been working a solid 12 hours 5 days a week plus weekends for the last 2 years. I am now averaging 14 hours a day in the week plus 10 hours on the weekend as we prepare for OFSTED. I still don’t get everything done. It’s not acceptable!

  4. I’m leaving teaching this year as an early retiree and living off of savings until my retirement starts in four years. One of the reasons is the massive workload that has come up in the last years. Now don’t get me wrong, I love teaching and I know that teachers have ALWAYS been required to put in the extra hour, but now it’s ridiculous.

    I’m required to have a certain number of grades in every term, no matter what it is I’m teaching or if it means anything to the lesson. Each graded paper/project must be individually mark “for student growth” which means a simple 100% won’t do, you have to tell the student WHY they got 100% in mind-numbing detail. This takes time. When you have 150 kids if you take minutes a paper to grade, individualized with a note, and enter in the very slow web grade book, that’s 12.5 hours. If a teacher is required to have two grades a week, well, I’m sure a teacher taught you to do the maths.

    No extra time is given for this increase in government and administration mandated grading. It didn’t’ used to be this bad and is what the military calls “mission creep”. Adding a requirement to put a note on every paper seems all well and good, until you actually have to do it.

    I’m required (not asked) to manage student clubs that are aligned with my specialty. This is on top of my teaching hours. If this meant sitting in a room while the kids do their thing, that would be fine, but now managing a club is now burdened massive paperwork requiring lesson plans, budgets, working with facilities management, dealing with parents, having shows and field trips…it goes on and one. Managing a club is now an entirely new teaching assignment without any time allotted at all to manage it with.

    I’m required to create individualized lesson plans for students who have been ill, on vacation, or have been mainstreamed in my class because they are disabled or slow. There is no extra time for this at all. I create all of my lesson plans on my own time in the term breaks and as an experienced teacher I have loads to fall back on. I have no idea how a new teacher manages.

    I am required to fill out reams of paper regarding testing, data mining, and all sorts of ethnic nonsense. For a government who wants me to treat every child with equality and respect, it sure does its best to make sure my classes are sliced and diced and analyzed for each one’s ethnic purity.

    I know that on the surface people who are not in the classroom think that their requirements are small and easily managed. Its the mountain of small and easily managed requirements that overwhelm teachers. Each email must be read, each government paper must be filled out and returned by a certain time, each phone call must be answered and each one takes 15 minutes minimum, each observation and walk-through disturbs the flow of the class and must be dealt with. NONE of those things have made me a better teacher. What that have done is frustrate and discourage me with death by a thousand tiny cuts.

  5. As a teacher of fifteen years the excessive workload which has increases dramatically is ridiculous beyond belief. Friday we left school at nearly 7.00pm (including the Head) but not with just our coats looking forward to a relaxed and carefree weeken oh no several trips to cars with bags of book and files. I don’t even look forward to the weekends anymore as I dread the amount of work that has to get done. I don’t even have children but I know friends that have left the profession and have taken either admin posts or even shop work to save their marriages. With pay freezes and contributions increasing but the cost of living rising I don’t even have anything left to show for all the extra work I do can’t even afford to book a holiday which would be something to look forward to…

  6. I feel very strongly that my workload is at its largest since starting teaching 12 years ago. I currently work part time (0.6) and work 8am until at least 6pm in school, I then go in for half a day unpaid and work evenings and weekends. It is unsustainable long term.

  7. well I’m a primary teacher – on average I am in school 8:20am getting ready for the day, stay until at least 5.00pm every day – and at least twice a week I stay until nearly 6:00pm, and lunchtimes – I spend at least 40 mins out of the 60 on work-related matters, marking etc – and weekends- at least 4 hours on work for school. I think that comes up to more than the apparent ’13 hour average’ mentioned in the article. Inf act, taking into account ‘buffer times’ (when you are meant to be on site) and NOT including those, I make it an average of 17 hours 5 minutes weekly.

  8. In my primary school, teachers arrive about 7.30am, although teachers have been known to be in work at 6.30am. The majority of us work straight through our lunchbreaks. Most of us leave at 6pm every day and take home an average of 2 hours work several times a week. I spend about 11 hours on a Sunday working…which is what I am doing right now!
    A lot of the precious time I could be using after school between 3.30pm and 6pm is taken up with ‘extra’ jobs I have to do – staff meeting, running a club (expected, not optional), completing ‘subject leader work’ such as rewriting policies, twilight training, progress meetings etc. Last term I went 2 weeks straight with meetings/appointments out of my control every night of the week – that meant an extra 12.5 hours of my own time lost. None of these were directly linked to my class of children.
    This half term ‘holiday’, I was in school doing display boards and planning for 3 full days, plus my entire Sunday plus at least an hour’s work on every other day – no wonder most of my school’s workforce are demoralised and exhausted. Three are under medication for stress-related issues. A ridiculous situation for professionals who should be respected.

  9. I am a primary teacher in Year 6, start work at 8.00 am every day (I gobble down my lunch whilst running around sorting out yet another admin issue) and never finish until 5.30pm, so that everything is ready for the next day incl. Maths and topic marking. I then mark English at home from 8-10pm, run a Maths revision class, after-school clubs (as required by the Head). My PPA time is usually spent on more admin work, so that i need to spend 4 hours at least on the weekend on planning/resourcing/assessment. A large proportion of my Sunday is spent on marking (again!)

    In a meeting, our head insisted on staff delivering 54 hours of goodwill which I had actually already achieved by October, just like most of our members of staff. Not only is such management practice uncalled for in schools or the 21st century, how about the impact on salaries? I dare say if I compared my hourly rate with employees in other sectors, it would become apparent that I receive less than the minimum wage.

    Just as well that I absolutely love my job as a teacher!

  10. I work for an academy that requires all trips to go out at weekends/after school/in school holidays. The academy takes a dim view of departments that refuse to provide trips on this basis???

  11. I’ve just added up the amount of overtime I do every week – it comes to around 40 hours!!! I get to school for 7:30 am every morning, take about 15 minutes for my lunch and stay at school till 5pm sometimes 5:30pm. Then when I get home I carry on after I put my children to bed. I will then be either planning or marking for the next day. Usually I work till 11pm or 12 pm but have been up till 2 or 3 in the morning on occasions. I have over 30 children in my class and the marking is crazy – some days I can have up to 4 lots of 32 books to mark – and off course ticks won’t do any more. I cannot understand why we are not all marching the streets in protest about this crazy amount of work and ‘little’ pay in reward. I don’t think it is possible to work any harder and I don’t believe there is any other profession where you have such an amount of responsibility. Work-life balance …. I have none – my head is always full of tasks I have yet to get done, I am surrounded by post-it notes. I can’t sleep at night, I am always rushing and running. I am tired and exhausted – wondering how much longer I can carry this on!

  12. Not sure how the 13 hours overtime was derived. It’so FAR more than that!!
    And what about teaching assistants who get totally overlooked time wise….The expectations are also there and work is also sometimes taken home. Many stay after hours in order to catch up with work which time doesn’t permit due to interventions, paperwork on interventions, & catching up on classroom duties, some of which some teachers are having to do because their TA’S are never there. Only one snag with TAs – pay is rubbish with the amount of work they are expected to do yet they happily smile their day through work as do the teachers, hiding all their stresses and tiredness from the children because they’re doing a job out of sheer commitment which is being taken advantage of by the powers that be.And of course this is all in the name of shaping our future workers. So how about getting the right balance and rewarding dedicated workers with more pay/ less hours or reasonable rewards for commitment which will always be done anyway. It’s really not rocket science to work out, just needs a sprinkle of fairness In the world of education.

  13. Of with severe stress at the moment. They want to put me on competency. I realise now that i was working most the time. When I wasn’t I was thinking about it. Even thought of suicide but I have kids. Work have been very supportive. I’m still not getting the work done. They’re are not enough hours in the day. The options are; work all of the time and become a poor teacher or work my hours and get reprimanded anyway as requirements are not met. Either way I’m a crap teacher its a ‘no win’.

  14. There is NO way you will ever rectify this issue as the goalposts have moved so much. It’s a bizarre job… One you never get to the end of. I actually work (on average) 7:30-5:30 (50 hours) physically at school. Every evening from 7-11 (on average) (another 20 hours) and all day on Sunday (10-9) 11 hours. So I do, on average, an 81 hour week! It’s actually more to be honest! I work this, and I still don’t get it all done… You never do! There’s always a display to create, a plan to tinker, a policy to draft. How will you ever change this? Impossible!

  15. When an employer effectively forces their staff into working unpaid overtime in order for them to fulfil the requirements of their job, isn’t that tax avoidance on a massive scale?

  16. I am a ‘mature’ NQT working in a primary school. I worked in the private sector for over 20 years and NEVER have I felt so overwhelmed and unsupported by the incredible workload teaching brings. I arrive at school at 7.45am and leave every day at 6pm. I mark books on Saturday morning and plan on Sunday’s. I cannot understand why I have to plan ALL my lessons from scratch when I’m quite certain similar lessons, that have been evaluated and could be improved upon, must have been delivered at some point in the past! Newsletters, parents evening, individualised learning when children are off sick, differentiated lessons plans, behaviour monitoring, assemblies, display boards and no TA all contribute to the unacceptable workloads. The workload is never ending and no matter how much you put in you never seem to get anything back. They just expect more and more and then even more. I love teaching and I’m not afraid of hard work but I have a young family of 3 children and they deserve better.

  17. I started teaching in the UK in 2012 after teaching abroad for 15 years. It has been a real culture shock for me as I used to have time for planning/marking etc during the school day. I gave 100% to my job and my children during the hours of work but my time at home was for family. My daugter has suffered greatly from the demands of my job in the UK – I went part-time this year (0.6) to try and cope yet I still work over 50 hours a week. Despite the highly scritinized and overly-rigorous nature of teaching in this country, I believe I was a better teacher abroad. The unresonable demands here have a negative impact on energy, entuisiasm and creativity. I am left with the choice of leaving the profession or sacrificing the well-being of myself and my child. It is time for major change NOW.

  18. All of these comments highlight the unsustainable demands on teachers in the UK. I now teach in China where I only have 18 contact hours in a week for just 3 levels, GCSE, AS and A level. I am not expected to organise activities or a tutor group. My Chinese colleagues teach only between 6 and 15 45 minute lessons a week depending on the subject. In the UK I was teaching 23, 50 minute periods a week plus 4 hours of activities and 2.5 hours of tutor group supervision. I also had break and lunch duty once a week. That is 6 hours more contact time and I was teaching from year 8 to year 13, so had to prep for 6 different classes. The marking demands were totally unreasonable and I often stayed at school until 9 pm because the books were too heavy to carry home.

    If something isn’t done about this situation teacher retention in the UK is going to reach a critically low level and schools are going to be staffed only by young and inexperienced teachers who will last about 5 years and then change career to something which they can combine with a reasonable family and social life.

  19. My husband and I are both teachers; he is a head in a small independent prep school, works ridiculous hours to the detriment of family life; I work part time in an academy grammar, run the house, the family etc to the detriment of my health. Unfortunately living where we do, we live to work and work to live. The pace of life down here is ridiculous, the pressure that teachers are constantly under is unsustainable. As much as I appreciate that teaching is a vocation, you have to ask at what cost? And therefore, is it actually worth it, when all the government wants to do is tinker with it; it’s all about the league tables, results, PMR and performance related pay. I see so many damaged children who can’t cope with the pressure that they are being put under for our PMR targets… What are we really doing and will anything ever change for teachers?

  20. My wife is a teacher that has since left the public sector and works part time in a private school.

    It is national scandal the amount of work you teachers have to do. I admire your professionalism and dedication, but you are your own worst enemies.

    What I mean to say is hold your Unions to account. Prove that they majority of you are working below minimum wage – which is illegal – and then strike.

    Forget work to rule; all of you strike and strike hard until you get better pay and conditions. The government will soon come around when the country has to stay at home and look after the children.

  21. I work in a 3 form entry primary school but my year group is currently only 1 form due to school expansion. I’m in work every day by 8am, never get time for my 15 minute first break and if it is wet play we are EXPECTED to stay in our classrooms to supervise our class. I take about 10-15 minutes out of my lunchtime to eat and the rest is spent marking or sorting out resources. I leave when the cleaners leave at 7.30pm and still end up taking home work to complete. We are expected to have pupil progress meetings during PPA time as otherwise we have to stay after school hours for them due to not having enough money to pay for cover. We have staff briefing EVERY morning from 8.20-8.35 AND are still expected to attend staff meeting EVERY wednesday 3.40-5.00pm. Paperwork is unmanageable, particularly SEN paperwork which we are never given time out of class to complete, meaning this needs to be done in our spare time. On average i work about 10 hours over the weekend due to not having anyone else to share the jobs with and not being given any extra time for leading the year group. I absolutely love teaching but the pressure is just too much and CONSTANT. New things are being implemented nearly every other week on top of everything else. I have no social life or enthusiasm to even go out, as when it comes to the weekend i just feel exhausted and would rather catch up on sleep. This is not the way to live. I feel sorry for not only teachers, but all the children from this generation, as the pressures are not only on the teachers but on them too. Not surprised that so many children feel stressed/worried or hate going to school these days as it’s not enough anymore to let the children just enjoy their learning at their own pace and develop their curiosity…it’s all about PROGRESS PROGRESS PROGRESS!

  22. I’ve just handed in my notice after 14 years. I trained as SENCo a couple of years ago, which I loved, but my time was reduced and reduced and I was then expected to organise interventions and paperwork on top of my ASDAN lessons and the mainstream English classes I was given (I was also told I had to make new schemes of work for these groups and not use the ones I had helped develop as an English teacher in the same dept). I was told 3x50mins a week was plenty of time to do my SENCo role for a secondary school of 700 students with 25% on the register. I struggled with the workload after a miscarriage and through a difficult pregnancy and when I saw the Head explaining that I couldn’t keep up working til midnight at least 4 nights a week and all day Sunday, she told me: “that’s teaching. That’s what I expect from all my staff”. I’d rather stack shelves than go back into mainstream teaching after my maternity leave. I’d never get to spend quality time with my baby. I’m so much happier now I know I’m not going back and the depression and anxiety I suffered for years are gone! Only things I’ll miss are the students and my lovely LSA team.

  23. “What about the 14 weeks of vacation time teachers get each year???”
    It is actually 13 weeks holiday and if you take into account the Sundays that many of us work, then here is the simple maths of my situation.
    39 teaching weeks means 39 Sundays that I work ALL of. 39 Sundays is just under 8 working weeks.
    13 weeks holidays – 8 weeks of Sundays worked = 5 weeks off per year.
    People in “normal” jobs rarely work any of Sunday, and certainly don’t work it all as unpaid over time, so the above logic is sound.
    Of those 13 weeks “off” my head of department expects us all to come in to do revision days and intervention with pupils. This is an all year long issue as “exam season” now appears to start in October in my school! It used to start in about April? My latest half term falls between the two GCSE papers and it is expected that we will come in on Monday for year 12 and Wednesday for year 11 and also the Saturday again for GCSE. It is not acceptable to say no to any of the above. You do it, or you are not “pulling your weight”. That is nearly half of that holiday worked unpaid.
    Imagine in the private sector when somebody booked their annual leave and you said “That’s great, you are all sorted to take next week off….which of those days will you be coming into work?”
    ”er… none of them! I’m on holiday?!?”
    In terms of my overtime, here goes…
    I teach in a secondary school. I arrive at work at 6:30 am and have no break and 10 mins lunch. The break and rest of lunch are spent running detentions and intervention sessions with pupils or planning lessons/marking books. I finish work at the earliest at 5:30pm and then take at least one set of books home each night to mark. These can take up to 2 hours to mark properly with comments and targets, etc. I also attend at least one after school meeting each week which can be 2 hours long and have revision for year 10 and year 12 on two other nights which are not mandatory but “expected” by my head of dept. ALL of Sunday is gone with marking and planning. It is normal for PPA time to be used at my school for cover, intervention, admin that is nothing to do with planning, prep or assessment of my groups. I have not had a “free” for many weeks. I have forgotten what it is like. This adds up to over 80 hours per week and is a normal teaching week for me. It can sometimes be more if we have parents evenings and reports due.
    This makes my hourly wage approximately : £6 per hour.
    I could literally take a job at the checkouts and work less hours with overtime and earn my teaching salary. The job makes less and less sense as the years pass. I have worked in the private sector for nearly 10 years before becoming a teacher, and I have never worked as hard or under as much pressure in my entire life. The job is unsustainable and many good teachers will move on to other more reasonable jobs if something doesn’t change. :(

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