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How can we reduce heavy workloads, which mean some teachers have 70-hour weeks?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    A teacher trainer leader is calling on the government and Ofsted to do something significant to reduce the work burden on teaching staff?

    ‘Ofsted should write about teachers' workload in their reports – and even take workload into account when considering inspection outcomes, a teacher training leader has said.

    James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (Ucet), said that workload was a key reason for the teacher recruitment and retention crisis.

    “It is immoral to expect people to work 70 hours a week with no time off,” he added. “Colleagues in teacher education try to address it. They can say to trainees: ‘You don’t need to do all this.’ But if the headteacher says they have to do it, they have to do it. It can’t be addressed through the way teachers are trained. That will help, but it has to be addressed through the way schools are managed.”

    The government has begun to focus on the need to tackle the workload burden, setting up working groups, commissioning research and issuing guidance.’

    What are views on this topic? What significant steps need to be taken by the government and Ofsted to reduce teachers’ workload and excessive working hours?

    drek likes this.
  2. -Maximilian-

    -Maximilian- New commenter

    The Government will take no steps to help. No-one cares about teachers anymore, least not SLT and heads in academies and MATs. They cause the workload, driven by fear of Ofsted. It will only get worse as the accountability increases. Add rubbish pay rises to that as well. Why do we bother?
  3. drek

    drek Lead commenter

    The workload is so bad that many union members can’t make it to meetings because of after school meetings and other work not to mention a bit of the evening left for home life....Another reason why things must won’t change.
    Mrsmumbles, woollani and JohnJCazorla like this.
  4. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    My HT was adamant that the SLT was aware of workload issues and worked hard at reducing it.

    As an example, she told me there had been serious discussions about adding an extra compulsory period to the teachers day but because of workload, SLT decided against it.

    Is it just me that seems to work in some Kafkaesque twilight zone episode.
    BioEm and woollani like this.
  5. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Occasional commenter

    Teaching a 50% timetable would help. I feel exhausted after a full day and I know the students in my period 5 lesson don’t get me at my best. This extra time would mean I could plan and mark properly instead of rushing it. On average I’m currently doing 50 hours a week (which isn’t a lot compared to come colleagues) without taking lunch or breaks because I want to go home before it’s dark! I also work in the holidays to plan and resource my lessons.

    Just for context, I teach 13 classes and have a form which means I have about 500 students in and out of my room every week. The marking alone is killing me but the major gripe I have is not supporting pupils in a way I know I can. If I had time I could really address those underachieving groups and plan my lessons to focus on certain pupils but I just don’t have the time.

    Children are getting a raw deal because teachers do not have time to plan properly. If this crazy workload issue doesn’t get resolved the powers that be don’t care, they’ll just get rid of the expensive teachers via competency or burnout and indict some fresh cheap ones to make up the numbers.
    BioEm, woollani, phlogiston and 4 others like this.
  6. bertiehamster

    bertiehamster New commenter

    A limit on hours to be worked in term-time. This is to be a maximum not a target. This should be set at 2 hours per day, and would clearly include meeting time. There should be an absolute ban on weekend and holiday working-any voluntary work undertaken in this time should be unrelated to routine school tasks (therefore research and training of personal interest to the teacher). There needs to be an understanding, backed up by authority (the latest "professional body" fad, whatever it's called this week?) that there is a limit on the time purchased for the discharge of professional duties.The right to work-life balance is already enshrined in employment law, but many teachers seem to think it doesn't apply to them. Osted can't be trusted with this (they claim to have put a question on a staff survey, but I've never seen any evidence for this, it doesn't appear in any reports I've seen) and our strong and stable government won't do a thing, so it would appear that the only thing to do is resign en masse. Which won't happen either. Thank God I'm old.
  7. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    The only teachers I know who do a sensible working week are those who are are on a .8 part time contract. They work on the day off to give them back the weekend.

    If we wanted to make all teachers .8 how would that work? You’d have to have your 23 teaching periods in 4 days. Which means you’d need 6 hour teaching days. You’d also need an increase in non-teacher contact time to the tune of 5 hours a week to cover the longer days. I can see some less 'academic' activities such as running club, gardening on an allotment and so forth. I’m struggling to think of 5 hours' worth but it could be done.

    Would you teach six hour days if you were offered a non teaching day (off site) a week to catch up on your work?
  8. bertiehamster

    bertiehamster New commenter

    No, absolutely not. Any reduction in days would need to be matched with a reduction in teaching load. In fact, many crises would be solved by implementing a system with a maximum contact time of 18 hours per week, 15 post threshold, and no requirement to be in school during non-contact time. Combine this with routine retirement at 55, pension in 30ths and you have two results-1) a colossal bill and 2) a mass of people applying to be teachers and feeling richly blessed when they get there. But the "make teachers .8" idea is not really making teachers .8 at all.
  9. koopatroopa

    koopatroopa Senior commenter

    Why would you do that rather than just dumping many of the pointless tasks teachers are asked to do which have no impact on pupil learning?
    I'd ban Powerpoint, laminators and book/marking inspections for starters. Oftsed and Primary tests would be much reduced. We'd rediscover the joys of dipping into a well-written text book as part of lessons.
  10. Christopher  Curtis

    Christopher Curtis Occasional commenter

    The answer is simple, but it does not matter because it won’t be done: 100 per cent of teachers have to join the one union and insist that enough is enough, and that union has to focus exclusively on pay and conditions, not the trendy cause of the month. We didn’t have one union here and each one did not have 100 per cent membership, but each sector – primary, secondary and technical – was distinct from the others and had its own union and around 90 per cent of teachers belonged, so the sector I was in won decent conditions more than 40 years ago in strongly union schools and across the whole state 36 years ago.

    This is not an argument that Victorian teachers show greater professional solidarity than UK teachers because those decent conditions of long ago were legislated out of existence in 1992 and have never been restored as the union – yes, there is just one now – has spent 25 years caving in during EBA negotiations. So, the maximum teaching load that used to be 18 hours is now 20, the maximum class size that used to be a definite 25 students for most classes and 20 for practical classes is now a flexible 25 for both and the time allowance pool that used to be 90 minutes per teacher is non-existent. Teachers here don’t fight any more either.

    I’m guessing that there must be close to a million teachers in the UK, including those not currently in schools. You would think from that number there would arise a group that could take over the existing unions and combine them into an effective force. Again, I am not making disparaging comparisons. The union leadership here has no effective opposition either – just the usual collection of Trotskyite nutjobs who want to bring down the capitalist system.

    The alternative approach, which also won’t happen, is that the one million teachers join the main political parties and organise within them.

    I must add that the idea of one teacher having 13, or anywhere near that number of, different classes is absurd. The mathematical maximum any teacher could have in my last school was seven, and very few had that many. It all comes down to organisation.

    The key is not to come up with suggestions that would make working life better if applied. The key is to get the power to apply them.
    woollani and JohnJCazorla like this.
  11. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    I’d move everyone to .8 because having a day a week to do the marking, planning, and everything else required would mean we could manage the time better. An hour off in a five lesson day with double duties, pre and post day meetings as well as the usual prep and marking is really quite pointless. A day off, at home, would mean teachers could recover from the stress of intense teaching and get caught up.

    In addition, get rid of all the pointless work. As well.
    woollani and JL48 like this.
  12. Mr_Frosty

    Mr_Frosty Occasional commenter

    I'd go further than 0.8 - If a meaningful change were to happen I'd favor 20 periods a week with a max class size of 20 students. That should allow for meaningful marking and feedback, solid lesson preparation time and give teachers a proper work/life balance.

    There would still be pre-school/lunchtime/afterschool 'catch up' sessions etc. so it wouldn't be as light as it might first seem.
    Catgirl1964 likes this.
  13. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    Cultural change needed in primary - it needs to be OK again to use a scheme of work with pre-prepared resources including text books, whole class teaching needs to be accepted as a necessary compromise, it needs to be recognised that the pig doesn't grow better for fortnightly weighing and more teachers need to strengthen their backbone and stand up against continual meddling and additions.
  14. Oldfashioned

    Oldfashioned Senior commenter

    I work in secondary and this week I have a full day every day until Friday. I asked my hod when I should mark the assessments the classes have just completed and she simply shrugged her shoulders. Because I value my time away from work I know they won't be coming home with me. More than likely they'll be done in class while pupils get on with work.

    Reduced timetables are the way forward. There simply isn't enough given PPA time, 10% is a joke.
    woollani likes this.
  15. David Getling

    David Getling Senior commenter

    The comments about unions are on the right track.

    Until the vast majority of teachers get together and have an all out strike to force the enactment of protective legislation, with severe penalties (imprisonment) for SLT who break the law, nothing is going to change.
  16. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Lead commenter

    The main thing I think would help would be for people to trust their staff more. Allow teachers to teach in the way they think is most beneficial to the students they are teaching at that time. Recognise that students are not a standardised part on an assembly line. Trust that teachers will be able to say what a student has learnt and what they need to do next to move this on - sometimes this will be planned in advance, but sometimes it'll react to the situation. Written planning is for the teacher, so should be for them to decide what it should contain.

    Train "managers" what managing actually should be, and how to actually run a meeting (and realise that most of the time they're not needed).

    Stop wanting to measure everything every 5 minutes. I think this comes down to those measuring not having enough teaching/subject knowledge experience.
  17. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    The suggestion of reduced timetables seems like an acceptance of the planning, marking and admin load ... I'd rather see the status quo changed than just see time made for it. I recall a time when 10% was plenty ...
  18. Oldfashioned

    Oldfashioned Senior commenter

    I can't argue with that. I know I can certainly teach my subject without too much extra time but am bogged down with nonsense. However, a full day of teaching is exhausting in a way I've not encountered in other jobs, and I've had loads, so I still think we need less contact time.
    cazzmusic1 likes this.
  19. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

    When I first went independent, my contact hours went down to about .75 of what they had been in state. Class sizes were much smaller too. Admittedly the expectations of T&L were much higher, and you have to play a larger role in the life of the school.
    thekillers1 likes this.
  20. CheeseMongler

    CheeseMongler Senior commenter

    Well, based on the number of posters suggesting to reduce teacher contact time, I guess the government need to increase education funding by about 20%... or stop paying their friends to be MAT bosses / education consultants.
    guinnesspuss and nomad like this.

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