Call for contractual changes as teachers clock up 57 hours a week

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Teachers are now working an average of 57 hours a week thanks to more time being spent on pastoral care, administration, data, and assessment.

Survey evidence from the NASUWT finds that 91% of teachers report increased workload in the last year.

Involving around 3,000 full-time teachers, the research finds that in a typical mid-term week workload tops 57 hours, with teachers working 15 of these hours outside of the normal school day.

The figure compares to the 46 hours a week that were worked by full-time teachers in January and February 2021 as cited in recent workforce research from the NFER (Worth & Faulkner-Ellis, 2022).

And the annual Work Your Proper Hours Day research from the TUC showed in March that teachers are averaging 11.2 hours a week of unpaid overtime, compared to a national average of 7.6 hours across professions.

A total of 84% of the teachers responding to the NASUWT survey believe that their job has adversely affected their mental health in the last year, with 53% citing workload as the main cause.

The union is pushing for a contractual entitlement to a limit on teachers’ workload and working hours.

When asked what was driving increased workload, the respondents said they were spending more time on:

  • Administrative or clerical tasks: 46%
  • Data and assessment requirements: 41%
  • Pastoral care: 40%
  • Lesson-planning: 39%
  • Preparation for remote learning: 36%
  • Dealing with parents: 36%
  • Marking: 30%

The survey evidence was published to coincide with a motion and debate on workload at the NASUWT annual conference in Birmingham over Easter.
The motion, which was agreed by delegates, said that the Covid-19 pandemic had “exposed the grossly exploitative nature of teachers’ conditions of service frameworks across the UK, as teachers and school leaders have been required to work excessive and unreasonable hours to deliver the responses of UK governments to the pandemic across the school system”.

It adds: “Conference asserts that, as key workers, teachers and school leaders should be entitled to a contract of employment which places a genuine cap on their workload and ensures that they cannot be required to carry out any duties outside their contractual limit.”

The motion instructs the NASUWT to continue its lobbying for limits on working time and for governments to commit to reducing workload for teachers.

It also instructs the union to “campaign and take action to achieve the replacement of all open-ended teacher contracts and conditions of service frameworks across the UK with those which contain a genuine and meaningful limit on working hours”.

Commenting on the debate, NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “Teachers and school leaders have been serving on the front line throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and have been placed under immense pressure, which is no longer sustainable.
“No teacher should expect to be subject to levels of workload pressure that will make them ill or force them out a job they love. Excessive workload is bad for teachers and it is damaging children’s education.

“Teachers deserve a better deal, which must include a contractual entitlement to a limit on their workload and working hours.”

  • Worth & Faulkner-Ellis: Teacher Labour Market in England Annual Report 2022, NFER, March 2022:

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