Teachers’ 70-hour weeks are ‘immoral’

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. Tes reports.

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.”

But Noble-Rogers thinks central authorities need to get tough. “I would like to see Ofsted take a stronger role on [workload],” he said. “It could ask teachers how many hours they’re working, and this could be reflected in the outcomes or referred to in the report.”

Mr Noble-Rogers also argued that training costs could be contributing to the shortage. “Now, people going into postgraduate training will have accumulated three or four years of debt, and parents or peers are saying, ‘Why do you want to incur another year of fee debt and maintenance debt?’,” he said.

The government has recently unveiled its plans for changing the induction period at the beginning of a teacher’s career to provide more support for trainees and promised to set up a £5 million sabbatical fund to help retain mid-career teachers.

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “We have also added a question to our staff survey, which we give out during inspections, asking teachers how leaders at their school manage workload issues. Their responses help inform our discussions with school staff and leaders.”

Read more Teachers’ 70-hour weeks are ‘immoral’

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