Teachers call for 35-hour cap on working week

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Teachers in England are set to renew calls for a 35-hour cap on their working week with up to 20 per cent of their timetable reserved for marking and preparation.

The National Union of Teachers will raise the issue of workload at its annual conference next month, seeking to investigate the possibility of implementing south of the border a deal on working hours similar to one introduced in Scotland in 2001.

“There is a requirement to set some kind of standard for teachers in England, and what we’re saying is that the open-ended contract that we have at the moment is unacceptable,” said NUT acting general secretary Christine Blower. National agreements in England had not resulted in any reduction of teachers’ workloads, she said.

The annual Teachers’ Workload Diary Survey, published last summer, stated that on average teachers worked more than 50 hours a week.

The McCrone Agreement introduced a 35-hour week for teachers in Scotland and gradually reduced the time they spent with pupils to a maximum of 22.5 hours a week, without damaging their education, Ms Blower said. However, many teachers were believed to be voluntarily working more than the agreed number of hours.

Motions will be tabled at the conference in Cardiff calling for the union’s executive to examine the impact of the McCrone Agreement and for the amount of teachers’ time earmarked for marking and preparation be increased to a fifth of their timetable.