The rising workload and excessive working hours are driving teachers away from the profession, exacerbating the current recruitment crisis.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has highlighted that the morale of teachers has seriously dwindled due to the vast administrative tasks they are required to do. Not only is bureaucratic paper filing weakening drive amongst staff, it is also adding to an ever-growing pile of tasks, which is burdening teachers with excessive workloads.
ATL General Secretary, Dr Mary Bousted, said: “The average working week for a teacher is now 60 hours and that average includes the school holidays. So, in term time, teachers are working excessive hours. And the problem is so much of what they’re doing isn’t related to effective teaching and learning.”
To coincide with the opening of its annual conference yesterday, the ATL has published the findings of over 800 teachers in order to highlight the problems that are currently occurring within the education sector. Shockingly, it has been reported that more than four in five teachers have considered leaving the profession because of work pressures, with one in four saying that they would be gone within two years.
The impact of additional administrative tasks has inevitably increased teachers’ workload excessively, leading to longer working hours, and consequently, a decline in workforce.
Mary Bousted said that because the government has missed teacher trainee recruitment targets for the last four years “record numbers are leaving the profession”.
As a result, current staff are under increasing pressure to fill the gaps in educator vacancies, which in turn is adding to workload and forcing teachers to divert from their existing duties. In some cases, teachers are required to take on classes and subjects unrelated to their degree and topic knowledge, compromising the level of education being taught to pupils. This has created a vicious cycle; disproportionate work/life balance is deterring people away from the profession and exacerbating teacher shortages, contributing to unmanageable workloads and making more teachers want to leave.
In a bid to tackle the recruitment crisis, the government has introduced expensive recruitment drives such as ‘Troops to Teachers’, a prestigious national programme which targets service leaders who have the potential to become outstanding teachers. However, this came at a total cost of £10m and resulted in just 41 veteran recruits.
Dr Bousted said: “[The government] haven’t created a coherent teacher education programme, for initial teacher training or continued professional development. There has to be a serious attempt to reduce teacher workload and to treat teachers as professionals.” (Freddie Whittaker, para. 3)
The DfE confirmed that action is being taken in order to combat this current issue: “No-one is more determined to raise the status of teachers than this government and we want to work constructively with the sector unions to do so. Despite claims to the contrary, teaching remains hugely popular with UCAS figures showing a rise in teacher training applications and acceptances and over a thousand more graduates training to teach secondary subjects than last year.” (Richard Garner, para. 14)
Naturally, faith has been lost in the DfE due to numerous failed attempts at tackling the current teacher crisis. However, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has recently accepted recommendations from three workload groups in a bid to assist schools to cut down the amount of data teachers are required to collect and to end the “duplication of tasks”.
Hopefully, this will help to ease the pressure being felt by teachers, as well as encourage further changes in the future.
For more information on how to improve teacher workload, download our Improving Planning, Marking and Data Management guidance document.
 Richard Garner (2016) ‘Four out of five teachers ‘have thought about quitting’ – with one in four saying they would go within two years’ <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/four-out-of-five-teachers-have-thought-about-quitting-with-one-in-four-saying-they-would-go-within-a6966936.html> [Accessed: 5 April 2016]
 Freddie Whittaker (2016) ‘ATL teacher survey reveals support staff often cover vacancies’ <http://schoolsweek.co.uk/atl-teacher-survey-reveals-support-staff-often-cover-vacancies/> [Accessed: 5 April 2016]