Teachers working 60 hour weeks ‘being driven out of the profession’


A leaked government report has revealed some teachers are working 60 hours or more a week, with a quarter considering leaving the profession altogether because of the “unacceptable” high workload.

The findings from a survey conducted by the Department for Education (DfE), and seen by Sky News, said eight in ten were working upwards of 40 hours, while 22% worked 60 hours a week or more. The average teacher works just shy of 50 hours a week.

There was also criticism of the current schools inspection regime, with 63% of teachers and leaders saying it did not provide “a fair assessment of school performance”.

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The report has been leaked amid an ongoing dispute between teaching unions and the government over pay and conditions.

A fresh offer on pay is being put to members, but the National Education Union (NEU) has recommended rejecting it – saying the one-off payment and 4.5% average rise for next year was “insulting”.

The NEU has also refused to rule out further strike action.

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Responding to the leaked report, joint general secretary of the NEU, Kevin Courtney, said it showed the government was not doing enough to fix working conditions for staff, saying it was “driving talented people out of the profession”

‘Too much time on admin’

A total of 11,177 teachers took part in the survey for the DfE’s Working Lives of Teachers and Leaders report – with 5,770 from primary schools, 4,859 from secondary schools and 548 who taught in special schools, pupil referral units or other alternative provisions.

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“The aim of the study is to examine issues around teacher supply, recruitment and retention in the teaching and school leadership workforce in England,” the report said.

“The study is intended to help DfE to design policies that better support teachers and leaders, as part of delivering on the commitments set out in the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy and the Schools Whitepaper.”

As well as revealing the long hours worked by teachers, there were high levels of dissatisfaction when it came to workload – 72% said it was “unacceptable”, while 62% said they did not have sufficient control over the levels of work.

And a quarter of those surveyed said they were considering leaving the state school sector in the next 12 months, with 92% of them saying the high workload was the most common reason.

A large proportion of classroom teachers reported spending too much time on other tasks away from teaching, with 75% saying they spent too much time on general admin.

Other reasons for wanting to leave included government initiatives/policy changes (76%), pressure relating to pupil outcomes or inspections (69%) and dissatisfaction with pay (57%).

Around of third of teachers also cited a lack of support from their superiors, while 35% said dealing with pupils’ parents or carers was a major factor in their decision.

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Teachers across England and Wales have been taking strike action over pay and conditions.

One in five teachers said their satisfaction with their lives was low, with 43% saying they had high levels of anxiety before filling out the survey for the department.

And when it came to their salaries, the report said 61% of teachers and leaders disagreed they were satisfied with their level of pay, with 57% thinking they could get a better wage by leaving the profession.

Mr Courtney said: “Nothing in this report will come as a shock to teachers and leaders. High workload is endemic, it is driving talented people out of the profession to find better paid work elsewhere, and the government is not doing enough to fix things.”

The union boss also said it was “a mystery why this important research has not been released by the government”.

He added: “The School Teachers’ Review Body must be provided with the full detail of these research reports to inform their deliberations ahead of the 2023/24 settlement.”

The Department for Education said it would not comment on leaked documents, but a spokesperson said: “The government has put forward a fair and reasonable offer, backed with funding for schools.

“The offer provides an average 4.5% pay rise for next year and puts £1,000 into the pockets of teachers as a one-off payment for this year

“We are listening to teachers about the issues that affect them which is why our offer also committed to reducing workload by five hours per week.”

A government source told Sky News said the issue around workload in the teaching profession was “well-known” and something they had been engaging with unions on – including as part of its most recent offer, which promised to reduced workload by five hours a week.

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