Teaching workload ‘unsustainable’ as ‘eight in 10 teachers consider quitting’

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Eight in 10 teachers have considered leaving the profession because of their heavy workloads, it has been claimed.

Long hours on “unnecessary” work is demoralising school staff and leading to a “crisis” in teacher recruitment and retention that could damage children’s education, according to the NUT section of the National Education Union (NEU).

In some cases, work pressure is leaving teachers exhausted, and even putting marriages under strain, it was suggested.

An NEU survey of more than 8,000 of its members found that 81% say they have considered leaving teaching in the last year because of the pressures of workload, while 40% of those polled said they spend more than 21 hours a week working at home during evenings and weekends.

One teacher told the union: “I don’t know how I can change how I work, I don’t know how long I can maintain it, and the impact that it’s having on my family is horrific. I am near marriage breakdown and one of the reasons is my job.”

NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “The continual long hours spent on unnecessary work such as data collection for arbitrary Government targets is not only demoralising but is unsustainable mentally and physically. If the Government does not act decisively and soon, the recruitment and retention crisis will seriously damage our children and young people’s education.”

Ministers have announced measures aimed at cutting teacher workload.

Last month, Education Secretary Damian Hinds pledged to cut teachers’ hours and workload in a bid to tackle staff shortages in schools.

In his first major speech, he promised school leaders that the Government would “strip away” pointless tasks to allow teachers to “focus on what actually matters”.

A similar survey by the NASUWT union of 4,080 members found nearly two thirds (65%) had seriously considered leaving the profession in the last 12 months.

Speaking during a motion on the teacher retention crisis at the union’s conference in Birmingham, Paula Westcott from Kirkless said: “We’re haemorrhaging from both ends now. They (the Government) might be throwing money at recruitment, but it’s not working.

“I feel like we are in the 1997 film Titanic, and the Government are the first-class passengers.

“We are going down. We are sinking – it’s going to happen. There needs to be a change.”

Delegates voted in favour of lobbying the Government to address the issue of retention, and pursue workload reduction strategies.

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