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National Union of Teachers calls for lesson teaching time to be capped at four hours a day - what do you think?

(426 Posts)
JaneGMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 02-Apr-13 16:04:18


We've been asked by Metro to find out your thoughts on the news that the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has said that teachers should spend no more than 20 hours a week taking classes (four hours a day).

The NUT called for new limits on working hours amid concerns that school staff are facing "totally unsustainable" workloads. In some cases, teachers are left with little time to eat, talk, think or even go to the toilet, the NUT's annual conference in Liverpool heard.

The NUT passed a motion demanding a new working week of 20 hours' teaching time, up to 10 hours of lesson preparation and marking, and five hours of other duties. Other duties include time spent inputting data and at parents' evenings. This marks a drastic reduction in teachers' hours, the conference heard.

NUT Coventry representative Christopher Denson claimed that official figures from 2010 show that a primary classroom teacher works 50.2 hours a week on average, while a secondary school teacher works an average of 49.9 hours. "The same data tells us that four in five teachers have worked all through a night to catch up with work and spend every single term-time Sunday catching up with lessons," Mr Denson said. He added: "It's essential that we act to ensure that what's already NUT policy - a maximum working week of 35 hours - becomes a reality for teachers."

Do you agree with the NUT's position?

If you are a teacher, do Mr Denson's comments resonate with you?

We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Many thanks,


OddBoots Tue 02-Apr-13 16:19:29

How do they suggest the children are taught for long enough each day, maybe teachers are not essential for teaching?

LeeCoakley Tue 02-Apr-13 16:19:57

I work in an infants' school and our teachers do about 4 hours a day anyway. 4.5 hours a day in the classroom but out of that they have 2 hours a week PPA so total time delivering lessons is 20 hours a week.

LeeCoakley Tue 02-Apr-13 16:20:55


orangeandlemons Tue 02-Apr-13 16:20:58

Not sure I want to answer this. The Metro will just sensationalise everything. As a teacher I have very very strong opinions on this and support it, but am not prepared to go onto lots of detail for it to be pulled apart.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 02-Apr-13 16:21:17

I can see how it might work better at secondary than primary, where I feel that continuity of teacher is very important.

I'll be interested to see what teachers on here say about how it might work in practise.

Would one option be more support staff to help with classroom prep etc?

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 02-Apr-13 16:22:48

Lee - good point. Thinking about it, that is what the teachers at DS1's infants do.

flowery Tue 02-Apr-13 16:28:13

I wouldn't be able to respond without knowing how much of a difference in teaching time this actually represents. Assuming being a primary class teacher involves more than 4 hours a day teaching, how would that shortfall be addressed?

tethersend Tue 02-Apr-13 16:40:52

"[...] In some cases, teachers are left with little time to eat, talk, think or even go to the toilet, the NUT's annual conference in Liverpool heard.

The NUT passed a motion [...]"

I am a teacher, and an ex NUT rep, and I can't get past this without making some sort of childish, puerile comment.

God help us all.

<fnnaarr fnnaarr>

Ohhelpohnoitsa Tue 02-Apr-13 16:41:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BrianButterfield Tue 02-Apr-13 16:44:01

I currently teach 21 hours a week so it all seems like a storm in a teacup to me. However I do know academies are working staff harder and harder so maybe that's what this is based on. I have done 22 hours before and that was fine. Obviously we would all like more PPA (planning, preparation and assessment) time but I think 21/22 hours is reasonable, if a bit tight for time in the week.

I'm a member of the NUT and generally support them but I think they don't help teachers' cause with things like this which is fairly useless and will not help public perception of teachers as lazy.

PandaNot Tue 02-Apr-13 16:46:42

I'm a teacher and member of the NUT. I think this is just ridiculous. It's the amount that needs doing in non contact time which needs reducing, not the face to face teaching time. Sometimes I despair with the union and it's 'motions'.

Pozzled Tue 02-Apr-13 16:52:00

No, I would not support this. I do think the workload needs to be reduced, but you could not possibly justify paying teachers current rates if we only worked 35 hours a week in term time. To balance it out, you'd need teachers to work during most of the school holidays - perhaps providing childcare?

Personally, I'm happy to work a fair amount of extra term time hours in exchange for spending the holidays with my own children.

As far as the wider implications go, I think children need more than 4 hours of teacher time each day. In order to implement the NUT's proposal, either hours would need to be reduced, OR children taught by TAs more OR more than one teacher for every class. It just doesn't seem practical.

However, as I say, something does need to change to make workloads more manageable.

orangeandlemons Tue 02-Apr-13 16:54:01

4 non contacts in a 25 hour week envy. We get 3. I do 3 days so I get 2. Nightmare

BackforGood Tue 02-Apr-13 17:10:53

tethersend grin -my sort of thinking

I agree with PandaNot - it's not the teaching time that needs reducing, it's the 'everything else' that needs to be cut back.

When PPA was introduced, it seems so many schools just introduced even more 'gumph' that needed to be produced, so it didn't ease the load particularly.

ravenAK Tue 02-Apr-13 17:12:29

I teach 22 hours in a week.

I'd be more effective with a couple of hours more planning & preparation time, yep. I wouldn't reduce the hours I work, because IME it's never enough.

It'd be perfectly do-able at secondary - you'd just have one fewer teaching group & need to recruit more teaching staff.

However, it'd obviously cost a fortune, mostly because of added staffing, & mainly benefit students in state education, so it's not going to be something this government actually consider, let's be honest.

HorryIsUpduffed Tue 02-Apr-13 17:21:25

I'm not a teacher.

It's hard from a lay perspective to see how each teaching hour requires 30mins' prep/marking etc. Presumably some of that currently happens during school holidays, particularly for secondary teachers?

It would be helpful for the NUT to explain how teachers spend their non-contact time if they want widespread public support. To the man on the street (parent on the playground?) that is invisible and could be anything.

EvilTwins Tue 02-Apr-13 17:23:04

I teach 19 hours per week, but am a HoD and a HoY. Teaching, like many other jobs, is the kind of job where you've never really finished. There's always something else you could do. I don't think motions like this help, really. DH occasionally runs training courses at work and always says afterwards how exhausted he is. He gets that teaching can be tiring. 5 lessons per day with a club at lunchtime can be exhausting, and I often find I haven't eaten, drunk or been to the loo in school hours. However, I am perfectly sure that plenty of other professionals find the same. This will simply be translated as "teachers think they should only work for 4 hours a day".

orangeandlemons Tue 02-Apr-13 17:23:53

I would say it takes an hour to an hour and a half to prepare an outstanding one hour lesson. Longer if using data as it is meant to be used. Marking coursework takes about 20 mins per kid per week. Lower school takes about an hour to mark a set of books

cassell Tue 02-Apr-13 17:26:49

I'm not a teacher. I don't support this idea for several reasons.

IMO a teacher should teach for the full lessons in the day so in a 9-3pm school day that would be about 5hours and they then have 2 hours of a ''normal' working day (ie until 5pm) to do their planning etc. If they're not able to do it in that time then they work later/make up the time at weekends etc as those of us in other professions do.

In most professions a 40-50hour week is hardly uncommon and most other professions do not benefit from 13odd weeks holiday. I don't doubt that teaching is a stressful profession but then so are many others.

There has been enough dilution of teaching time with TAs etc who, while have a useful role to play, are obviously not teachers and shouldn't be used as a cheap substitute.

Whether there is too much preparation/paperwork required is a different issue and I'm sure that in common with most other professions there is a ridiculous amount of unnecessary bureaucracy and paperwork - that would be a much better focus for campaigning.

TheNebulousBoojum Tue 02-Apr-13 17:33:07

Happy to teach the full day, 5+ hours, it's not that which drives teachers into depression or to run from the job. Just cut the huge amount of paperwork and the insane interference and the continuous government interventions.
That would make a huge difference.

TheNebulousBoojum Tue 02-Apr-13 17:33:54

'Lower school takes about an hour to mark a set of books;

Depends on the subject.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 02-Apr-13 17:40:31

I do think that a 35-hour week is utterly ridiculous though, when compared to any other profession.

Teachers cannot expect such short hours and the long holidays. And I know that teachers do work during the holidays, of course they do. But they could do that work from anywhere, whenever they choose.

I always wonder whether the NUT is really speaking for the profession when it comes out with these things. Reading this thread, it looks as if it isn't - one or two excepted.

heggiehog Tue 02-Apr-13 17:42:01


"It's hard from a lay perspective to see how each teaching hour requires 30mins' prep/marking etc. "

Not sure what the point of this comment is. That is how long it takes. I can't really understand why surgery takes as long as it does, or why it takes film producers (etc) years to make a two hour long film, but that's because I'm ignorant as to the processes behind these things.

If you don't understand why planning and marking takes so long, you could always shadow a teacher for a day to find out. Or just ask us?

heggiehog Tue 02-Apr-13 17:44:14

"Teachers cannot expect such short hours and the long holidays. "

Teachers are not paid for school holidays though. Personally I'm a bit fed up of working anything from 50-70 hours a week all year round, outside of the terms of my pay and conditions, and having no life outside school. All on the proviso that I get extra unpaid holiday time...?

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