Teachers in England work longer hours than almost anywhere else in the world

‘There is no excuse for this desperate situation’ says union

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The Independent Online

Teachers in England work longer hours than almost anywhere else in the world, according to new analysis.

The study found secondary school teachers work an average of 48.2 hours per week, with one in five working 60 hours or more – 12 hours above legal limits set by the European Union.

It means teachers in England work an average 19 per cent longer than those in other countries. They do an extra 2.7 hours per week compared to teachers in the USA, 11 hours more than colleagues in Korea and a full 19.8 hours per week more work than educators in Italy. 

Of the 36 countries and jurisdictions surveyed, only Japan and Alberta in Canada had teachers working longer hours than England. 

The extra hours are mostly spent on marking, lesson preparation and form-filling rather than additional teaching, according to the report by the Education Policy Institute.

The heavy workload means teachers are missing out on training and development. England’s teachers spend just four days per year on courses, observational visits and on-the-job training compared with an international average of 10.5 days. Teachers in Shanghai spend 40 days per year on training and development – ten times more than in England. 

The combination of long hours and poor professional development could explain why England’s teachers are younger and more inexperienced than those in other countries, with almost one in four teachers in England being under the age of 30. This compares to an international average of just over one in ten.

And England ranks second lowest for the number of experienced teachers in schools – only Singapore is lower.  

Teachers’ unions blamed the heavy workload on bureaucratic government regulations and requirements

Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “The report confirms what the NUT has been saying – that excessive accountability measures, which have little to do with improving education, are the driving force behind this long-hours culture. 

“On top of low starting pay and little or no time for professional development, it is hardly surprising that teachers are voting with their feet and leaving the profession in such large numbers.”

“There is no excuse for this desperate situation. All of the issues facing teachers and education in England can be resolved by Government if they only listened to the profession. For the sake of children and young people’s education it is time they not only listened to but acted upon the advice given to them.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We want every child to have access to great teachers that aren’t bogged down with unnecessary workload so they have the time and freedom to do what they do best – inspire the next generation. We recognise teachers’ concerns and are continuing to work with the sector to find constructive solutions to this issue.

“Teaching remains an attractive career and we have more teachers entering our classrooms than those choosing to leave or retire. Teacher retention has been broadly stable for 20 years and the annual average salaries for teachers in the UK are also greater than the OECD average, and higher than many of Europe’s high-performing education systems like Finland, Norway or Sweden.”

The EPI study compared data from the OECD’s Teaching and Learning International Survey between 2012 and 2014.