Teacher workload – do you work more than 50 hours per week?

Many people, who are not teachers, envy the perceived holidays and pay that teachers get. However, the reality is that, on the whole teachers are underpaid for the work they do. There is homework to mark and grade, lessons to prepare and supervisory duties to perform, all extra to the actual teaching time.

In a recent Twitter poll, run by Talented Teacher Jobs, we found that 43% of the teachers definitely work more than 50 hours per week. You can see the results of the poll, below:

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), published its survey of teachers around the world, the Education at a Glance survey, in September 2016. The average teacher’s salary when starting out on the profession was low in comparison to other teachers in other countries. In England beginning  teachers are, on average, paid about £22,000. This rises, and after 10 years’ service, a teacher typically gets just over £35,000. which is above average. In France teachers typically get around £26,000-28,000 after teaching for ten years. Is this enough given the hours teachers put in?

In a survey of 4,000 teachers carried out by ‘the Guardian’, published in September 2016, 82% of the teachers surveyed reported having “unmanageable’ workloads. Of course, these workloads are taking a toll on teachers’ mental and physical health. 73% of respondents stated that their physical health was suffering, while 75% reported having impaired mental health due to their workloads. Perhaps unsurprisingly, almost half of respondents said they planned to leave the profession within the next five years. This would be a catastrophe for the profession.

The government published its report “ Eliminating unnecessary workload around marking” in March 2016. One of the conclusions reached was that

“marking practice that does not have the desired impact on pupil outcomes is a time-wasting burden for teachers that has to stop.”

Making copious comments on a student’s written work is excessive and does not improve the quality of work, but of course, feedback is necessary for improvement to take place. Giving oral feedback to the whole class can improve the workload situation. If teachers address common mistakes and errors, students may find these more helpful. Students can ask questions and have immediate answers to them.

In 2015 the government published a report of a survey which investigated the general unnecessary and unproductive tasks that occupy much of a teacher’s time. Teachers stated that the main problem areas were ‘detail, duplication or bureaucracy.’ Two main areas were identified as being particularly onerous: –

  • “recording, inputting, monitoring and analysing data (56%)
  • excessive/depth of marking – detail and frequency required (53%)”

That being said, however, teachers agreed that marking had to be done and feedback given if students’ performances were to improve.

Other tasks that were reported as being time consuming were: –

  • “lesson/weekly planning – detail and frequency required (38%)
  • basic administrative and support tasks (37%)
  • staff meetings (26%)
  • reporting on pupil progress (24%)
  • pupil targets (setting and continual review – including target culture) (21%)
  • implementing new initiatives/curriculum/qualification change (20%)

The report, “Workload Challenge: Analysis of teacher consultation responses” (February 2015) outlines teachers’ suggestions for improving the situation as regards teachers’ workloads. It is well-worth reading and pondering. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all. What works in one school may not work as well in another, and, of course, all teachers are different and work in different ways.

Clearly teachers are dissatisfied with their current workload. If you have any constructive ideas, please share them with us on Twitter, tagging @TeachTalentJobs in your tweets. We are interested in your responses. Unmanageable workloads will eventually mean fewer teachers as established ones leave the profession, and it will become increasingly difficult to recruit new teachers if the current situation is not improved.


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