The excessive workloads and working hours facing teachers in the UK have been clearly established in figures published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to mark its annual Work Your Proper Hours Day.
Survey highlights plight of teachers
Educators’ unions have denounced the fact that these ‘untenable’ work conditions have led to teacher shortages and exploitation.
NUT: Detrimental government policies
“Yet again, teachers are at the top of the list for unpaid hours worked”, said Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), affiliated to Education International (EI), and President of EI’s European region, the European Trade union Committee for Education (ETUCE).
Denouncing the situation as “untenable”, Blower said that “Much of teachers’ excessive workload is as a result of Government education policies and initiatives including the totally out-of-control accountability systems”.
She highlighted the following “sobering statistics”: 90 per cent of teachers considered leaving the profession within the past two years and 87 per cent of teachers know one or more teachers who have already left. This has led to “a shortage of teachers in many subjects”, she said.
Teaching is a brilliant job but it needs to be reclaimed, she added. “Working weekends and long into the evenings under such intense scrutiny and pressure is detrimental to the health, family and social life of teachers and is clearly bad for education.”
NASUWT: Exploitation of teachers
“The news that teachers do the most unpaid overtime of any sector and have the highest proportion of their workforce undertaking regular unpaid overtime comes as no surprise to the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT),” NASUWT General Secretary Chris Keates said.
She added that the TUC’s findings confirm the evidence on teachers’ excessive workloads and working hours that the NASUWT has repeatedly presented to the Coalition Government, an issue the Government has failed to take seriously.
Keates further stressed that the survey’s figures show that teachers are being “scandalously exploited and their lives blighted by excessive workloads, leaving them exhausted and stressed”.
She also called for an “urgent action” to put an end to “this unacceptable situation which is contributing to the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention”.
The NUT’s eight-step programme to reduce workload, with practical, cost-effective, and easy to implement solutions is available here.
Protect Teachers Defend Education
The Government’s announcement in response to its workload challenge consultation is bitterly disappointing.
More than 40,000 teachers responded to the consultation, announced by Nicky Morgan and Nick Clegg in response to the NUT’s campaigning. The outcome was a missed opportunity focusing on slowing down the pace of change and improving training, whilst ignoring the central point about reforming the high stakes system of accountability, with specific reference to Ofsted, which is driving unnecessary workload for teachers and school leaders.
The NUT has published an Eight Steps programme showing the Government how to reduce excessive teacher workload quickly, at little or no cost. Similar action is needed in Wales. Click here to see the Government’s announcement, the NUT’s ‘Eight Steps’ to reduce workload, and an NUT comparison of how the Government’s response measures up to the Eight Steps.
Nicky Morgan has been forced to recognise teacher workload as a critical issue. In response to the NUT’s campaigning, she and Nick Clegg announced a “workload challenge” consultation in England. More than 40,000 teachers responded.
The Government’s response
The Government’s announcement in response to the workload challenge is bitterly disappointing. It has failed to get to grips with the main drivers of unnecessary workload or to reconsider the current high stakes system of accountability. It does not reform accountability so that it is based on trust. The Government’s response does, however give us some opportunities to press for change at school level in the ‘annex C’ at the end of the document.
We’ve compared the NUT’s Eight Steps that we think Nicky Morgan and the Welsh Government should take to cut teacher workload, with the Government’s announcement following its Workload Challenge survey:
Reform accountability so it is based on trust
Introduce fundamental change to requirements relating to marking, planning, data, meetings and observations
Allow time for curriculum and SEN reform
Reform the teacher pay system
Require schools to adopt a binding work-life balance policy
Measure workload every year
Set targets to reduce workload and introduce limits
Increase teacher numbers to improve education