Teachers work ‘in excess of 60 hour weeks’

Graeme Dow, headteacher at Anchorsholme Primary

Graeme Dow, headteacher at Anchorsholme Primary

Headteachers have called for a stop to excessive working hours for staff after a survey revealed teachers in England work some of the longest hours in the profession in the developed world.

Half of the country’s full-time teachers work 40-58 hours a week and a fifth work at least 60 hours a week, the analysis by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) concludes.

Work load is colossal for all teachers and has never really been addressed

Only teachers in Japan and the Canadian province of Alberta worked longer hours than those in England.

England was also ranked 30th out of 36 in terms of time teachers spend on continuing professional development (CPD), with teachers spending just four days a year on it, less than half the average of 10.5 days

Graeme Dow. headteacher at Anchorsholme Primary School. said: “At our school the majority of staff are in school from 7.30am to 5.30pm each day.

“This time is spent preparing sessions, teaching, providing playtime and lunchtime cover, supporting colleagues and providing before and after school extra curricular activities.

“This is often followed up at home each evening with at least two hours of marking per night.

“So that is 60 hours before we start.

“Sunday is also a huge preparation day for teachers up and down the country and there is often another four hour preparation session completed each Sunday.

“I often get the ‘well teachers get lots of holidays’. I have never met a teacher that switches off during holidays.

“Many spend at least half of their holidays thinking about school projects, next step developments for learning in the coming term.

“Work load is colossal for all teachers and has never really been addressed by any Government.

“Teachers give this commitment because they are dedicated to their jobs and schools work very hard to try to develop positive work life balance measures.

“However, we need to find ways nationally to address what is becoming an increasing problem which eventually will have a negative impact on teaching and learning and our ability to retain high quality teachers in out country.”

Andy Mellor, headteacher at St Nicholas CE Primary and area representative for the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), said: “This is a huge issue as teachers often do a third more work unpaid every week.

“The state couldn’t afford the level of free teaching hours given by teachers if they decided to pay per hour. Most of the teaching staff here have done their working week by Thursday lunchtime if you go by the hours that they are paid.

“Of course there is no overtime in teaching.

“Those who don’t understand teaching will say that this is compensated for, by the holidays but as Graeme says, we have gradually had holidays eroded as there are more and more requirements of teachers and senior leaders in schools than there ever used to be and so much of the time when children aren’t in school staff are still working.

“Essentially the hours referred to in this report are based on secondary school research and previous studies have always shown primary teachers work longer hours still, so this report isn’t the full story.

“I think if you talked to most teachers, they don’t mind doing some extra time as they are genuinely in the profession to help children. However when a school’s Ofsted judgement and its success, are based on free labour, there is clearly something wrong with the system.”

Chris Keates, the general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, added: “This is another report to add to the already overwhelming mountain of evidence that teachers’ professional lives are blighted by an excessive workload.

“Year-on-year increasing numbers of teachers leave the profession and potential recruits are deterred from joining it because of the toxic combination of increasing workload and decreasing pay.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We recognise teachers’ concerns and are continuing to work with the sector to find constructive solutions to this issue.”