More than half of full-time teachers work an extra day each week, survey finds

6 June 2019, 06:00

Teacher with Blackboard

Almost three out of five full-time teachers say they are working the equivalent of an extra day or more each week.

A survey by the EIS teaching union found that 57.5% reported usually working eight additional hours each week or more - impacting both time with their families and their health.

More than a third (34.86%) of part-time staff also said they were having to put in this level of additional work.

In contrast, just 1.08% of full-time teaching staff - and 1.69% of those who teach part-time - said they "rarely" worked more than their contracted hours.

The figures were released by the teaching union as its members gather in Perth for their annual general meeting - with workload high on the agenda of issues to be raised.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "Teachers across Scotland have serious concerns about the excessive workload demands that are being placed upon them.

"These concerns are common across all levels of school, at all grades of post and in all parts of the country. Teachers are working many additional hours over and above their contractual commitments, with serious impact on their family life and on their mental and physical wellbeing."

More than 12,000 teachers took part in the survey, which found almost two-thirds (63.8%) of part-time teachers are working at least five extra hours a week.

More than half (57%) of teachers said only some of what they have to do for assessments is taken into account in their current working arrangements - with 23% reporting no time at all factored in for this work.

Liberal Democrat education spokesman Tavish Scott said it was "no surprise" so many teachers were working extra hours as he called on the Scottish Government to tackle workload pressures.

Mr Scott said: "Scotland's education minister claims he is tackling teacher workload in the classroom. This survey shows he is not.

"A majority of teachers reporting that they have to do an extra day's worth of work every week should come as no surprise.

"Teachers routinely go well over and above what is required, but that doesn't make this situation right and it shouldn't simply be accepted. When will the SNP accept the reality of teaching after 12 years of their government?"

To try to reduce workload pressures, teachers at the conference will discuss demands from some local branches to reduce classroom time to as low as 17.5 hours a week.

Such a move would allow teaching staff to spend more time marking and preparing for lessons within the working day, reducing the amount of time they spend doing this at home in the evenings and at weekends.

A motion from EIS local associations in Glasgow and South Lanarkshire proposes that the EIS should campaign to reduce class sizes to a maximum of 20, and to reduce the "maximum class contact time for teachers to 20 hours per week".

A similar motion from the union's Edinburgh association calls for "maximum class contact hours of 17.5 hours a week" coupled with maximum class sizes of 25 - apart from practical subjects, where it says classes should have no more than 20 pupils.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We recently reached agreement with the EIS to work collaboratively to tackle critical issues facing the profession including workload and teacher empowerment, and removed the threat of industrial action through an improved pay offer.

"We have been undertaking a range of actions to reduce teacher workload, acting to clarify and simplify the curriculum framework and to remove unnecessary bureaucracy, while our education reforms will also create new opportunities for teachers to develop their careers.

"There are now more teachers than at any time since 2010 and the number of primary teachers is the highest since 1980. All local authorities are committed to maintaining a national pupil-teacher ratio at of 13.7 through the Teacher numbers agreement with Cosla."