Teachers working 55 hours a week

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TEACHERS are working more than 55 hours a week, but spend just a third of their time in the classroom, according to new figures which union bosses described as “astonishing.”

A Department for Education (DfE) workload survey shows secondary heads work 63 hours a week on average and primary school teachers work almost 60.

The head of the country’s biggest teaching union warned the situation is unsustainable and called for serious Government action.

Unions also said the figures showed a “dramatic” increase in working hours since the last survey was conducted in 2010.

The DfE insisted that the two could not be compared due to changes in the way that the data was collected.

The survey was released yesterday. It is based on the responses of just over 1,000 teachers and head teachers. The results suggests that a large proportion of a teacher’s time is taken up planning lessons, assessing pupils’ work, dealing with students and parents, helping to run clubs and activities, administration and professional development. The data also shows that teachers are spending time on school work at weekends and in the evenings.

The National Union of Teachers’ general secretary Christine Blower said: “This survey shows an astonishing increase in the hours that teachers are working on Michael Gove’s watch. No one enters the profession expecting a nine to five job, but working in excess of 55 hours a week and during holidays is entirely unacceptable. Many teachers feel totally overwhelmed and it is hardly surprising that two-in-five leave the profession after their first five years in the job and morale is at an all-time low. Many thousands of good teachers are leaving the profession and education is being damaged as a result.

“This is an issue that should concern everyone. Our children deserve enthusiastic, energetic teachers not overworked and stressed ones. Publication of the DfE findings is timely, coming as it does before talks open between the Government and teacher unions.”

The survey shows secondary heads work the longest hours, 63.3 a week on average, while classroom teachers in academy schools clock up slightly less than others with a weekly average working time of 55.2 hours.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said: “On this Government’s watch, today’s workload diary survey demonstrates a dramatic overall increase in working hours since 2010.”

She added: “The workload diary survey shows that the often cited claim of teachers enjoying long holidays and clocking off at 3.30pm is a myth.”

A DfE spokesman said that they would be looking at the findings and ways to reduce “unnecessary bureaucracy” with teaching unions as part of ongoing talks.

He said: “The results of this survey provide a snapshot of what we already know - that the vast majority of our teachers and school leaders are hardworking and dedicated professionals,” he said.

“We are giving teachers more freedoms than ever and cutting unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy. In fact, teaching has never been more attractive, more popular or more rewarding.

“A record number of top graduates are now applying to become teachers and vacancy rates are at their lowest since 2005.”