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Apr 30, 2018
Hugh Dellar

Chunk of the day: heavy workload

If you have a heavy workload, it means you have a lot of work to do and you probably work very long hours. Recently, a report revealed that, on average, teachers in the UK work 40-58 hours a week and a fifth of teachers do more than 60 hours!. Teachers here apparently have the heaviest workload in the world – excluding Japan and Alberta, Canada! Perhaps more important is what’s involved in that workload. It seems that many teachers are spending more time doing admin than actually teaching. They’re spending their time on marking students’ homework, producing written lesson plans and other form filling connected with assessment of the students and evaluation of their own work. The survey also found that this meant teachers didn’t have time to take part in the kind of professional development that might improve their performance in the classroom. It seems pretty mad, really.

The result of this excessive workload and of the lack of professional development opportunities is that often teachers suffer from burnout and leave the profession to pursue a different career. It’s one of the reasons why I feel incredibly old when I go to my son’s school! The vast majority of the teaching staff are under thirty and there’s a steady turnover of staff from year to year. Teachers are not the only ones who are drowning in paperwork, though. Many nurses and doctors and even charities providing humanitarian aid are also suffering. In part, it’s for the good reason of being accountable – in other words, so that people outside the organisation can see that the work is being done correctly. Unfortunately, though, it seems that this workload is sometimes having the opposite effect and stopping people from doing a good job!

Should teachers complain? After all, there are many other jobs that have a heavy workload, but where you don’t get long summer holidays. Most teachers in the UK get around 13 weeks holiday. Mind you, they also have the stress of dealing with teenagers on top of their workload!

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  • Which other jobs do you think have a heavy workload?
  • Do you sympathise with UK teachers?
  • What’s a teacher’s life like where you live?
  • Do you get opportunities for professional development where you work?
  • What can people do if they’re suffering from burnout?
  • How much admin do you have to do? How do you feel about it?


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