World study warns of England teachers' long hours

Teachers in England work some of the longest hours in the profession in the developed world, leaving them little time to develop their careers, a new report warns.

Half of the country's full-time teachers work 40-58 hours a week and a fifth work at least 60 hours a week, the analysis by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) concludes.

Its study looked at 36 countries and regions in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member states in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Australasia which set education policy and found that only teachers in Japan and the Canadian province of Alberta worked longer hours than those in England.

England was also ranked 30th out of 36 in terms of time teachers spend on continuing professional development (CPD), with teachers spending just four days a year on it, less than half the average of 10.5 days. In Shanghai, China, staff spent 40 days a year on average on their personal development, the study claimed.

David Laws, the former Lib Dem Schools minister in the coalition government, who chairs the EPI, said: "This analysis highlights that the English education system is unusual internationally in its long working hours for teachers, low levels of professional development, and what looks like a high burn-out rate of teachers.

"Combined with relatively low starting pay for teachers in England, these three features of our school system have clear risks for recruiting, retaining and developing a high quality teacher workforce.

"Addressing these challenges should be a major focus for the government, policymakers, and school leadership."

The EPI report analysed data from the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), which includes information from more than 100,000 teachers collected between 2012 and 2014.

It found that 60% of teachers in England said their workload represented a significant barrier to accessing professional development, placing the country seventh highest out of the 36.

Peter Sellen, EPI chief economist and report author, added: "Longer working hours are also not reflected in teachers' pay, even when considering the normal hours for other workers in our economy."

He added that the "burn-out" effect in England was shown by a sharp fall in the number of teachers over 50.

Angela Rayner, Labour's shadow education secretary, said: "While the Tories waste time on bringing back failed old education policies, they are ignoring the most important factor in delivering an excellent education for all - great teachers."

Chris Keates, the general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, added: "This is another report to add to the already overwhelming mountain of evidence that teachers' professional lives are blighted by an excessive workload.

"Year-on-year increasing numbers of teachers leave the profession and potential recruits are deterred from joining it because of the toxic combination of increasing workload and decreasing pay."

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "We recognise teachers' concerns and are continuing to work with the sector to find constructive solutions to this issue.

"Teaching remains an attractive career and we have more teachers entering our classrooms than those choosing to leave or retire.

"Teacher retention has been broadly stable for 20 years and the annual average salaries for teachers in the UK are also greater than the OECD average, and higher than many of Europe's high-performing education systems like Finland, Norway or Sweden."