Putting the hours in

4 Mar

The Wales TUC held its annual work your own hours day last week. They noted that on average workers in Wales were putting in around 6.2 hours a week of unpaid time.

I know from personal experience that this is the case for teachers. In one of the early entries for this blog I covered how many hours my good wife, then a part-time teacher returning from maternity leave, had put in. The results when added up showed that despite the fact she was only supposed to be working three days a week, she had accumulated 38.5 hours.

Now that she has returned full-time she finds herself much more aligned with the teachers reporting in the workload survey, finally published by the Westminster Government thanks to NUT pressure, a huge increase in their workloads. That survey shows that the average primary school teacher is working close to 60 hours a week while secondary teachers are on average racking up close to 56 hours. All of this while the pay and pensions of teachers are being reduced. The slogan work longer, receive less and pay more has never been more accurate. Not only are the Westminster Government expecting teachers to put in more years they are expecting them to put in more hours per week as well. All for the gratitude of a reduced pensions at the end.

While the survey doesn’t show Welsh specific data it wouldn’t be a shock to expect those figures to be at least as high here. The £604 per pupil less funding does have implications in terms of spreading teachers even thinner on the ground and therefore having to cover more workload. We also know that junior and infant class numbers in Wales have been slowly, but steadily, increasing year on year since 2004 and with that comes additional workload pressures.

There’s little doubt that this current trend is unsustainable. It is leading to high quality and enthusiastic teachers leaving the profession early, while those that remain are burning out. It is beyond belief that anyone looking at these statistics could be naive enough to ignore the potentially drastic impact they will have on teaching as a profession and the quality of education available to pupils in Wales and across the UK as a whole.

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