The DfE finally published the 2013 teacher workload diary survey today and it contains a huge range of fascinating findings. At first reading, the following notable findings stood out for me – bear in mind these are all averages:

  1. Primary school teachers report more average hours (59) than secondary teachers(55). Both figures are huge, and they’re an average! The figures for ‘Academy Teachers’ which is for both phases of school is marginally lower than for maintained secondaries, although this isn’t statistically significant. Overall, primaries spend more time on planning, marking and general admin (especially organising resources) than colleagues in secondary (especially . However, secondary colleagues spend more time on management (especially meetings, maybe because the organisations are larger?) and also on non-teaching pupil or parent contact (especially sport/drama/music, discipline and registration).
  2. Only about 1/3 of teacher time is spent teaching. Around a 1/3 is on planning, preparation and marking. The rest is management, paperwork, and working with pupils or parents. Primary teachers spend nearly twice as long on professional development as secondary teachers, albeit both are very low (3.8% = 2.2hrs in primary, 2.1% or 1.2hrs in secondary).
  3. The average teacher spends 12 hrs (secondary) or 14 hours (primary) working in the evening and at weekends. Most of this is marking and planning.
  4. The majority of complaints about workload were about excessive inputting/analysis/reporting on data and lesson planning that was required to be too detailed. The main reason cited for increased workload was Ofsted followed by general paperwork/bureacracy.
  5. The top four suggestions for tasks that teachers wanted to spend more time on, in order improve teaching and learning, were: lesson planning, sourcing/creating resources, one-to-one feedback for pupils, collaborative time with colleagues.
  6. Secondary headteachers report working 63 hours per week versus 60 hours at primary. Not entirely surprisingly, primary heads report spending significantly more time on teaching, planning and marking than secondary colleagues. Secondary heads report spending 10 hours per week in meetings – double that of primary colleagues.
  7. Secondary heads spend much more time on professional development (5.3% = 3.4hrs) compared to primary heads (3.3% = 2hrs).
  8. Headteachers’ reasons for workload increase are dominated by Ofsted and DfE policy changes.
  9. Headteachers would like the DfE to reduce paperwork burdens from Ofsted, reduce the amount of reporting they need to do, and slow down the pace of change.
  10. Headteachers’ top four suggestions for time they could better spend to improve teaching and learning were: more collaboration time, more training/CPD, more time for research, smaller class sizes.

Some overall thoughts:

  • For each 1 hour of actual teaching, teachers only have 1 hour to both plan the lesson and do all of the marking that arises from it. Instead of doing everything that we can to ensure this time is maximised and used efficiently, there are too many schools that are imposing bureaucracy on planning (overly detailed mandatory templates) and marking (where extra feedback is demanded for accountability purposes). This is clearly insane and must stop, as there clearly isn’t a huge amount of money around to significantly reduce teaching hours.
  • For each 1 hour of teaching time, primary teachers spend 2.5 minutes on CPD while secondary teachers spend just over 1 minute. To put it another way, secondary teachers spend around 47 hours a year on CPD, while primary teachers spend 85.8 hours. Considering that research suggests that it takes around 50 hours on a single CPD topic to make a sustainable change in practice but that teachers have to use this limited time for lots of CPD topics, there is really no surprise that research suggests that teachers barely improve their teaching after the first three years on the job – everything becomes habitual and automated and these habits are impossible to shift without concentrated time and effort.