Teachers forced to work part-time to manage their workload

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?

Long hours tuning teachers waway from the profession (002)






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16 thoughts on “Teachers forced to work part-time to manage their workload

  1. There is no doubt about it teachers are over worked, terribly!
    I would just like to mention, when the teachers do get these opportunities for personal development, the TA (teaching assistant) steps in to teach the class. This can be as much as 3-4 times a week. Some days are full day teaching and with this comes 90 books of marking per cover each day, along with all the emotional support our over worked children need. Besides that TAs do not get Ta support when cover takes place, where almost all teachers do. The pressure schools are under leaves us no choice. Being obviously good enough to deliver all core subject’s their pay is poor and sadly not paid through the holidays, although often work is completed at home. They also have to plan but on a smaller scale. No ppa time is given to comelete these tasks. As previously stated teachers are overworked TERRIBLY this does have a knock on affect.
    It’s very sad that the educational system is under such difficulties to get results and and tick all those boxes. Children should be allowed to have fun and not feel so stressed!

  2. I had thought about going back into part-time teaching which is why I receive these emails. I remember as a new teacher in the eighties working 70 hour weeks and I know its only got worse. But as I am conscientious and will want to catch up with new developments in the profession I can see myself working 40 hours a week on a p/t 3 day a week contract. So thanks for the reality check – not sure I will bother!

  3. I went part time in 2008 to get my weekends back. I had one day in the week to catch up on all the prep and marking. Somewhere along the line since then I have somehow lost my weekends again to marking but still on a part time contract. I used to be a Software Engineer and I just want out of teaching now. I am getting tons of job offers to teach Computing, looks like there are few of us left.

  4. I’m currently working 4 days a week on an 80% timetable simply because working a normal 5 days a week left leave me with absolutely no down/family time.
    I’ve been thinking of leaving teaching for that last 2 years because of the ever increasing workload. One day soon the feather will break my back and I will leave a job that I love…

  5. I have been part-time for nearly all of my teaching career and at first, even as an NQT, still managed some ‘time off’ during the week and week and weekends. Now I have a .5 contract and regularly spend weekends doing unpaid PPA which is not great, especially as I am also a full-time carer. It’s high time there was a reduction in the amount of additional work ALL teachers are expected to do. A large number of part-time workers have to be part-time due to family or caring commitments, so give us all (full or part-time) a break. Stop the unnecessary additional work we have to do.

  6. This is exactly what I had to do after having my children. I found I was rushing a bed time story so I could get on with marking / planning! Have dropped to 0.6 and I still am doing work every evening of the week and some more on weekends. Bonkers!

  7. Going part-time would only reduce workload if a teacher’s job was actually made up from a reasonable and justifiable amount of planning and preparing teaching and assessing outcomes. In reality, the job comes with a host of other demands which too often originate from within the school’s own organisation – such as expectations in displays, extra-curricular activities, meetings, contributions to numerous “initiatives” and excessive documentation (which not even Ofsted is interested in). The responsibility for ensuring a manageable workload lies with the senior leaders (and ultimately the head) of each school and blaming “the Government” will get things nowhere. There will always be DfE pressure to do better but good leaders select and pass on to their staff the essential “To Dos” and see them through with a keen eye on effectiveness and efficiency. Poor leaders create unnecessary work (e.g. through “butterfly-thinking”) and allow/expect their staff to create work for each other in the name of CPD and School Improvement. Working 50-60 hours/week or on “days off” just signals to poor leaders that they are doing their job well and senior leaders and staff need to learn to say “no”. Then teaching may become a job that people will chose and continue to do; part- or full-time.

  8. When governments talk about reducing teacher workload they always focus on the admin and insist that the schools get admin staff to deal with it, putting pressure on schools to pay for more admin staff with no extra money. This only reduces teacher workload by a tiny amount. What nobody wants to acknowledge is that the truly heavy-duty parts of the teaching workload are preparation and marking. The only way to really reduce teacher workload, and thus teacher stress, is by increasing the ratio of PPA time to teaching time. I remember being told during my training that each hour of teaching could take anything up to an hour of prep and that thorough marking would be at least 2 hours per average class per week. Our PPA doesn’t even come close to matching that. Until a government is willing to fund schools to employ sufficient teachers for them to increase PPA hours there will be no real reduction in stress or workload and new teachers will continue to drop out of the profession, making the situation worse.

  9. I have been forced to stay on supply on a very low wage because when I worked as a full time English teacher I never had a life and I was always stressed and very often crying.

  10. When my full-time contract came to an end, I was relieved to be offered part-time. Relieved because I had run out of energy in a full-time post and needed flexibility. But the additional work didn’t stop, staff meetings were programmed for a day when I was not in, and I had to take on other work to make ends meet. So I am now running from one job to another and the job satisfaction is even lower. I feel out of the loop with my full-time colleagues. Flexibility turned out to be one-sided – which I understand in a primary school.
    As I get older and my retirement age keeps moving beyond reach, I think, ‘I just can’t do this any more.’ So I will miss out on a full retirement package, too.

  11. I went part-time a few years ago after realising that I was working 80-90 hour weeks in my middle management role. Despite repeated requests to SLT to drop one or more of my responsibilities, I was told that this wasn’t possible as the role encompassed them all. I now work part-time but enjoy activities outside work as well, something that I couldn’t dream of before.

  12. CPD is non existent with teacher giving of their time and energies and being rewarded with zero development. It is obvious from ‘ the new-fangled appraisal management systems’ that most teachers taking MAs to get higher up the ladder are mostly self funded. Moreover appraisal systems are also monitoring and evaluating how effective teachers are during their extra curricular activities. I was under the misguided naïvity that an activity that was extra curricular and therefore in the teacher’s spare time, was unpaid. How can this element be used to reward or impinge someone’s ascension to higher grades and more pay like some sort of double-glazing salesman? The activity is outside the normal working week and so should not be measured in the same way as work objectives. What has the world come to? If you don’t offer an activity, you are branded lazy or a slacker. If you don’t come to work when you’ve a streaming cold, and don’t keep in touch when sick, you’re on a slippery slope. You’re INVITED to a meeting, ” A RETURN TO WORK INTERVIEW’ to get you back on track! PEOPLE do get poorly and expectations of teachers to perform when they are genuinely ill is totally unreasonable. Sending in cover work when you’re ill is a joke. Admin, parent’s evening and other out of hours activities when you’re part time is an intolerable erosion of the work/home balance and a breach of a person’s employment rights. When I worked part time, I had to agree to these extra duties as part of my contract to take the job. Where does it end?

  13. I left teaching 2 years ago as the workload and expectations were beyond manageable for any sort of work life balance. I was a single working mother juggling children and work in a middle management role where I had 2 lessons less per week to fulfill all my management expectations. There was no administration help…data uploads, reports, parental inquiries,parent nights, excessive marking and planning of new curriculums as well as the writing of power points. .. which in themselves can take 2-3 hours+ depending on the content.
    An ill staff low on morale and general well being meant the amazing good will of staff …including the sharing of hard worked resources…. became thin on the ground.
    Eventually I left and started a career in relaxation therapies but I missed my vocation… so I did teaching supply. I realised I missed it and more than that appreciated how good I was… a thing I could never previously appreciate as you were never told!
    Eventually I got a new job in a different school where the management was much more understanding of reality.
    I no longer beat myself up to be perfect. I’ve been doing this job 25+ years and I’m very good at it. I don’t mark books anymore but walk round the class and discuss work instantly with pupils…the response is much more favourable.
    I now adapt old PPT”s and aim for longer time for activities so pupils enjoy their work.
    I am no longer stressed…. what I discovered was a lot of the stress I put on myself. There’s a huge teacher shortage… I’m excellent in class… I do my job and I care deeply for the pupils… I’ve done my job well…. so what grounds can they sack me? There are none! They’re lucky to have ME not vice versa.
    Teaching is an amazing career….we as teachers need to take back our power and self worth and manage from below…. enough is enough… we are permitted to have down time in our evenings and weekends. I earned my educational stripes … I studied so I could have a better life… that included being a non stressed mother/teacher/partner/carer etc.
    You work in education/healthcare/civil servant? Applaude yourselves…. if you dont no one else will!

  14. I have been a teacher for a long time now. Science. Chemistry and Physics mainly. I am competent and skilled.

    I had to move to part time working in 2013.
    Some years earlier, I suffered an assault at the (STC / prison) school I worked in which left me with a serious head injury and after effects that just will not go away after ten years. One of these side effects is chronic fatigue. I tried to work full time until the 5th year of recovery from the assault. I just could not cope with the demands made of me. I am 52. For me, wising up to the pressures, and how to attenuate them, was a matter of survival.

    I have my life back. Mostly.

    I work four days a week. On my “Day off” I do my planning and admin. I keep most of my weekends clear, but I absolutely refuse to work more than one in every three.

    There is still not enough time to mark everything according to my School policy If I set out to do it myself. To fill the gap, I have taken to encouraging children to peer mark.
    I have also stopped listening to what certain people say “OFSTED” requires.

    I am consistent in refusing to do certain tasks or asking “what other task do you wish me to stop or pause doing while I do “X” for you. Most importantly, I am an active member of a union. If necessary I use the phrase “I think we may need to set a time to meet to discuss work life balance and how you are going to safeguard me from excessive and unnecessary work”. Managers soon back down if they are reminded that they will be held liable as well as the school if a grievance can be justified.

    I make it a personal policy to never start work handed to me on the last day of term until the following term. Seriously, what are they gong to do to me? Sack me? I think not.

  15. I reckon teachers should complete all work in school, clock in and out and schools be billed for additional over time completed outside contracted hours. A rule should be brought in that no work should be taken home, end of. Teachers bags checked as they exit to protect their work life balance. Schools might then cut down on unnecessary paper work

  16. I gave up trying to work 65-70 hours a week over a year ago. (I think 59 hours average for primary school teachers is widely under the actual figure – no-one I knew worked that few hours.)The lack of realism in the way headteachers just lay on all the extra requests thick onto your already overburdened day. My TA always being pulled elsewhere so I had no support despite having to plan for 2 focus groups per lesson. The computing curriculum being introduced before anyone had any training. Expecting me to teach subjects that never even existed when I trained! Lack of any professional positive support/praise – except from kids and parents.

    Reading your article, it quite clearly hasn’t changed. I won’t be going back.

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