Teachers’ Working Time Survey

24 February 2017

The Department for Education’s newly published Teachers' Working Time Survey shows that teachers are working on average 54.4 hours per week, with 93 per cent of teachers saying workload is a fairly or very serious problem. The figures show teachers have to spend an average of 60% of working hours on tasks other than teaching. Primary teachers new to the profession are working nearly 19 hours per week outside school hours, causing many to leave the profession within just a few years of qualifying. School leaders’ average weekly hours are even higher.

Commenting on the survey, Kevin Courtney, General Secretary, National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“These survey findings – published on Work Your Proper Hours Day – show that working hours are unsustainably high, well in excess of the limits in the Working Time Regulations and will deter prospective teachers from entering teaching.

“The survey confirms that work associated with lesson planning, marking, admin and data management has ballooned out of all proportion to its educational value. The penny seems to have finally dropped with the Government which is publishing advice today which begins to recognise the severity of the situation and calls on school leaders to reduce unnecessary workload. This is, however, no more than a belated step in the right direction. The DfE must act to ensure that schools actually implement the key recommendations so that teachers can focus on their teaching and the learning of their pupils. Teachers are calling for an enforceable limit on their working hours outside teaching time, as the open-ended nature of the teacher contract is clearly failing them and their pupils. Having such a limit would allow schools to prioritise work which aids learning, making lessons compelling and enjoyable, instead of expecting teachers to focus their time on box ticking exercises.

“As in previous years, today's ‘Work Your Proper Hours Day’ survey by the TUC shows that teaching is subject to enormous levels of unpaid overtime. This situation is untenable. We need to see real reform to reduce the hours that teachers have to work.

“Excessive teacher workload is damaging education. Teacher working hours are simply unsustainable. Exhausted teachers, struggling in the face of funding cuts and teacher shortages, cannot do their best for the children they teach.”

Editor’s Note:
Nearly a third of new teachers joining in 2010 had left teaching within five years. Of the 21,400 teachers who started working in English state schools in 2010, over 6,400 (30%) had quit by 2015. https://www.teachers.org.uk/edufacts/teacher-recruitment-and-retention