Commenting on the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) study, published today (20 March), showing that teachers work the longest hours, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“This report confirms what we already know. Teacher workload is unbearably high, it is driving the teacher recruitment crisis and leading to unnecessary stress and in many cases an unacceptable work-life balance. Teachers are used to spending time outside of school preparing exciting lessons, but are now spending unbearably long hours on tasks to satisfy the Government’s obsession with data collection. This is driving many to despair.

“While we welcome the conclusions that teacher working hours are too long and should be reduced, the working hours quoted in the report are shorter than the DfE’s more recent workload survey which show teachers in England work an average of 54 hours a week, while school leaders work in excess of 60. Our own data on attitudes is also completely contrary to the statement that ‘despite longer working hours and a background of falling real-terms pay, teachers remain satisfied with their jobs and incomes’. Given that the data presented is approaching three years old, the NFER conclusions may actually paint too cheerful a picture. The NEU’s annual survey on pay and progression found that 80% of respondents said their pay was less or significantly less than they thought it should be given their workload and responsibilities. (1)

“We welcome the recent statements by the Education Secretary and Ofsted that they are committed to addressing teacher workload. A few concessions however are not enough. We do need to see real concrete change to the working lives of teachers if we are to attract and keep people in the profession. Failure to deliver on this will be detrimental to our children and young people’s education.”