Working lives of teachers and leaders

Government must not shy away from the findings of its own Working Lives of Teachers and Leaders Survey


Despite a commitment from government to reduce workload, teacher and leadership workload is not only getting worse, but it is also driving people out of the profession. This is according to a survey conducted by the Department for Education in February 2023, the findings of which were published last night.

Full time teachers are now working on average 52.4 hours per week, up from 51.9 in 2022; and leaders are working on average 58.2 hours per week, up from 57.5 in 2022.

36% of respondents to this survey said they were considering leaving teaching in the next 12 months, compared with 25% who had that intention in 2022. Of those who had left teaching between 2022 and 2023, 67% indicated they were not likely to return.  This government has failed to find a solution to the workload crisis in our schools and this is having damaging effects on recruitment and retention.

The survey, which polled more than 10,000 teachers and leaders, also found that overall job satisfaction has nosedived.  Only 46% were satisfied “most of the time”, compared to 58% last year and 19% of respondents rarely had satisfaction with their role.

Unsurprisingly, the most common factor for leaving teaching was high workload with 94% saying it was an important factor.  84% reported that stress was a major factor and 83% attributed feeling undervalued by the government and policy makers as the main reason for leaving the profession.

Pay was also an important factor, with 63% saying this was the main reason behind their decision to leave teaching, up from 57% in 2022.  This is not surprising as only 20% of teachers and leaders were satisfied with their salary compared to 26% in 2022.

Commenting on the publication of the findings of the Department for Education (DfE)’s Working Lives of Teachers and Leaders (WLTL) survey from February 2023, Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“The DfE’s own survey shows once again that teachers and leaders carry a heavy burden, working even more hours than in the previous year. These are shocking figures, but they pass the eye test. The profession knows that this has been going on for many years.

"Teachers and leaders should not be subjected to such high levels of stress and anxiety over workload and pay.  The time for action from Government is now, not more warm words or future promises.  An above inflation and fully funded pay offer would be a good start, but action must also be taken to reduce class sizes, reform the high stakes accountability system and introduce effective measures to tackle workload associated with planning, marking and data collection.  Such sensible measures, accompanied with appropriate funding and resources, could reduce teacher workload to more manageable levels, increase morale, improve teacher professionalism and aid retention.

“Tomorrow (2 March), the NEU opens a preliminary ballot of teacher members in England calling for meaningful steps towards a long-term correction on pay as well as further funding to provide improved levels of staffing provision in schools, colleges and education services. We believe that the case for additional funding for pay and staffing provision was already obvious. The DfE’s survey merely underlines it.

“We must commend the Department for Education for not suppressing the findings of the WLTL survey as they did last year, however embarrassing to them they may be. That said, the new data does not feature in their evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body.  It is crucial that this survey is now shared with the STRB, in addition to the wealth of evidence submitted by NEU and other unions.”

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