Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'Unsustainable' Hours: A Growing Global Threat

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'Unsustainable' Hours: A Growing Global Threat

Article excerpt

Heavy teacher workloads endanger education quality, unions warn

Teachers' working hours are increasing, with "unsustainable" workloads jeopardising the quality of education for millions of students worldwide, teaching unions have warned.

After a report published last week revealed that teachers in English schools were routinely working almost 60 hours a week, international education leaders warned that the trend was being seen internationally because of school budget cuts.

In June, results from the Teaching And Learning International Survey will be published for the first time in six years, including information on how much time teachers in more than 30 countries spend on tasks such as lesson planning and marking, as well as teaching.

Fred van Leeuwen, general secretary of global teaching union federation Education International, told TES he expected this year's figures to show that reductions in school budgets were leading teachers to work longer hours than ever before.

"We have received reports from education unions around the world that teachers' working hours are on the rise, as is the number of teachers unable to cope with the resulting increasing stress levels," he said. "While budgets are being consolidated or reduced, teachers are requested to take on more administrative, managerial or counselling tasks instead of being allowed to concentrate on their core duty, which is to teach students."

The report on teacher workload in England, published by the Department for Education, finds that primary school teachers work 59.3 hours a week on average, up from 50.9 hours in 2010. The survey also shows that teachers in maintained secondary schools and academies work just over 55 hours a week, rising to 63.3 hours for school leaders - six hours more than in 2010.

The DfE said the figures were not comparable because of a change in methodology, but Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT teaching union, said the number of hours that teachers were having to work was "simply unsustainable".

"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," she added. "Our children deserve enthusiastic, energetic teachers, not overworked and stressed ones. …

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