Jocelyn Levy
3 minutes length
Posted: 2nd November 2020

Teacher Workload Requires 11 Hours of Unpaid Overtime a Week

Teacher workload is getting out of hand. They are working more unpaid overtime than any other professionals in any other industry. Research by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) revealed that UK workers as a whole put in £31.5 billion of unpaid overtime a year. It calculated that more than 700,000 teachers and educational professionals are working unpaid overtime.

Demanding profession

The TUC reported that some 57.5 percent of the teachers in secondary schools are working unpaid overtime for an average of 12.5 hours a week. And the situation was even worse for primary school teachers where 61.4 percent of teachers are working just below 13 hours extra a week.

Christine Blower, head of the Nation Union of Teachers (NUT) said:

“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.”

Teacher shortage

The excessive teacher workload is most obviously being caused by a shortage of teachers and additional support staff. More graduates need to be drawn into the profession and retained, but Ofsted again warned last week that the opposite was currently the case in UK education.

Potential teachers are perhaps not entering the profession because of the work load, and at the same time existing teachers are leaving the UK. The rise of international schools that teach in English is attracting teachers away from the UK to better paid positions.

Department for Education recognises issues

A department for education spokesman recognised the issue and attributed some of the extra teacher workload to the high level of change the government is trying to bring to education. The spokesman also said the government would monitor and try and improve the situation:

“We will monitor progress by tracking teacher workload through a large-scale, robust survey next spring and every two years from then and continue to develop ways to help teachers focus on what really matters – giving every child the very best start in life.”

Reducing the teacher workload

The TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady said all workers, not just teachers, need to make a stand against the ‘long-hours culture’ prevalent in the UK. He said:

“Too many workplaces tolerate a long-hours culture. That is why we are calling on employees to take a stand today on Work Your Proper Hours Day and take a full lunch break and go home on time.”

FasTrak solutions are designed to reduce bureaucracy in schools and reduce administration times. Our solutions could help schools and teachers save time and money. But 10+ hours of extra work a week is a huge amount to tackle.

There is so much pressure on teachers, that simply asking them to change their attitude is unrealistic. Leaving work ‘on-time’ will for a vast majority reduce the quality of education they can deliver under the circumstances. The only solution is to reduce teacher workload and hire more staff. However, for most schools in the current climate, the reality is tighter budgets, fewer staff and longer hours. It’s not sustainable.

Related links & news stories

The TUC’s report

TES: Teachers work more overtime than any other professionals, analysis finds

BBC: Warning over England’s ‘teacher brain drain’