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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,


heggiehog Tue 02-Apr-13 18:16:35

I'm still waiting for somebody to produce some effective online resources that target the numerous children with statements in my class, alongside the EAL children who speak 10 different languages from 4 different continents...

TheNebulousBoojum Tue 02-Apr-13 18:21:38

So, in answer to the OP, the NUT is on its own crusade. Don't cut the teaching hours, cut down and streamline the requirements for paperwork.

Feenie Tue 02-Apr-13 18:24:04

Agree strongly with NebulousBoojam. Teaching is the bit I actually love - stop the endless requirements which require me to prove how well I am teaching whilst simultaneously ensuring that I haven't the time to do so.

Arisbottle Tue 02-Apr-13 18:25:02

I work about 80 hours a week as a standard teacher I did about 75. I think that was when I taught 22 hours a week. I can't see how taking tai hours of contact time will reduce my workload down to 35 hours a week.

I do use online resources and we have schemes of work so our staff are not constantly recreating the wheel . Tweaking is still required .

Arisbottle Tue 02-Apr-13 18:25:58

Reducing class sizes would have more impact on my workload and improve standards - bringing us more in line with the independent sector .

heggiehog Tue 02-Apr-13 18:29:53

Arisbottle I work about 80 hours a week

sad I'm dead on my feet when I do 70. You must be constantly exhausted.

Arisbottle Tue 02-Apr-13 18:30:57

I get tired towards the end of a term/ half term. I work hard in short bursts and then rest. Quite manageable

ChunkyEasterChick Tue 02-Apr-13 18:34:10

As a science teacher, I used to regularly do 60+hr wks (before ML & going part time), including Sunday, and work 1-2 days a wk during each wk of holiday. Not everything can be left until the holidays though, so often I'd be in work at 7am, going home at 6pm when school locked up & working at home until 9/10pm at night.

Why? Because the government keeps moving the goalposts and changing what I'm meant to teach, how I'm meant to teach, who I'm meant to target, how I'm meant to identify those to target, how I'm meant to prove I've met the targets etc etc. In 9yrs of teaching, I have only taught the same scheme of work 2yrs running, once or twice. And this isn't because I keep moving schools!! This means I can't use last year's planning to teach this year.

Additionally, we have to plan everything from scratch because there are no "off the peg" resources that work without at least some sort of amendment...

It took about 3hrs to plan a 1.5hr lesson for a recent Ofsted inspection, to ensure we hit all the 'Outstanding' or 'Good' markers. Only for inspectors to see a mere 20mins & make sweeping judgements on the quality of teaching happening.

I am a member of the NUT but have to disagree with this idea. It doesn't help our public perception. The public generally likes to think teachers are feckless, lazy idiots, who moan more than they work. And yet want to entrust their children to our care for more & more hours, inc, for example, the holidays and so on hmm The NUT should focus on getting Gove to back down on some of his worrying & downright idiotic schemes for making us more 'professional'. Afterall, whilst we accept that say, a GP, has an equally busy working wk to us, and personally, I don't think I get paid that badly, we're not paid on anywhere near the equivalent level to other 'professionals' who are expected to put up with this kind of pressure & expectation.

Bottomline; get Gove to back off and leave us to be professional, as so many of us are, and not make suggest such rash, knee-jerk 'solutions' as this motion.

orangeandlemons Tue 02-Apr-13 18:35:42

Tracking and target setting take so long too. We track every kid in every year every term. It takes hours

reastie Tue 02-Apr-13 18:37:15

I'm a teacher and IMO the workload has increased greatly in recent years - alot more paperwork and time taken up with things of this nature. I work part time. I worked out I get 8 minutes given to me as non contact time per lesson I teach (and each lesson is 1 - 1.5 hours). In this time I'm meant to plan lessons, prepare my classroom (I teach a practical subject where I need to turn on ovens/get the washing machine on/get equipment out etc), write lesson objectives etc on the board before the lesson starts (no fancy pants projector for me), mark homework, update the school website for the classes homework so students and parents can access this from home and regularly key in grades/reports for students on the school system. That's in addition to reading reports in the SEN of students I teach (the classes rotate termly and I have to keep up to speed on what the individual needs of each student is), photocopying worksheets etc, keeping up to date with school emails and responding/following up where necessary. And I haven't even factored in paperwork/meetings/expectations of work I will do/needs to be done from management.

I can't think of another job where you'd be expected to do a presentation with such little preparation time, let alone prepare being 'on show' as it were for presentations for such a long time every day and having to do all this and be inspiring and deal with behaviour issues.

I love teaching, it is a vocation, but the pressure to do my job well is immense. Pre DD I purposely chose to only work part time as I knew I would never cope with the demands of working full time and feeling like I was doing a decent job. I just can't see how a full time teacher has the time to do all the work they need to to a decent standard unless they spend hours away from school doing it. It is the expectation that you will spend so much time out of what they give you to get the work done. I also have often struggled to have a loo break. I always work through my breaks and lunches. I never get time to sit down in the staff room! I do feel that the amount of time I'm given in school outside of when I teach is not nearly sufficient for me to do even a slap dash job, especially as often I won't even get the non contact time as I will be taken for cover when other teachers are absent/on trips etc. I would absolutely love to be given more non contact time to do my job more effectively and it is hard to sustain working so hard that your feet don't touch the ground on a long term basis and to have a life outside of school. Plus it drives me mad when people just roll their eyes at me and say I get the long holidays - I'm often working in the school holidays and I don't get paid for them - payment is pro rata for term time.

TheNebulousBoojum Tue 02-Apr-13 18:37:53

I think I might retrain as a plumber.

reastie Tue 02-Apr-13 18:40:26

YY agree with not just increasing non contact time but also cutting paperwork.

FrillyMilly Tue 02-Apr-13 18:41:28

How would this work at a primary school level?

Genuine question. Do teachers really feel that their holidays are unpaid? If a primary school teacher is on £36k are you saying 'full time' they should be on £50k?

Arisbottle Tue 02-Apr-13 18:42:26

I see my holidays as unpaid and refuse to work in them.

tethersend Tue 02-Apr-13 18:46:15

TheNebulousBoojum, my old HoD did exactly that- she retrained as a plumber and was very happy.

I'm an advisory teacher now, and was shocked when I first started to realise that all the bits you do around teaching, when you think you're having free time, are what everyone else calls 'work' grin

heggiehog Tue 02-Apr-13 18:48:22

"Do teachers really feel that their holidays are unpaid?"

Our holidays ARE unpaid. And boy would I love to reach the giddy heights of £36k one day.

As far as I'm concerned my unpaid holidays are compensation for doing on average over 60 hours a week when I'm only actually contracted for 32 a week.

Grockle Tue 02-Apr-13 18:48:54

I work in my holiday time but it's officially not paid.

I don't see how this would work in a primary or special school. I work in SEN and am working with the children for 5 1/2 hrs each day. That's not all lessons but things like playtime & lunchtime which to me counts as teaching time. We help the children learn how to engage, how to interact, to develop social skills, to eat with a knife and fork etc. I'd love more time for paperwork but am not sure this is realistic.

I'm in the NUT & this is the first I have heard of this hmm

Squarepebbles Tue 02-Apr-13 18:49:22

Reastie don't you have time after the children have gone home(most people I know work until 6)along with PPA,weekends and holidays.

I used to have plenty of time pre dc and that was before the internet,white boards and guided reading.

My dp works a lot more hours,doesn't have the hols or the good plated pension.

You seriously think kids should just get taught until 1pm? What are we supposed to do then as parents pick them up or leave them to be taught by an endless stream of TAs or supply teachers.

Do teachers really think ridiculous requests like this are going to get support for striking?grin

Feenie Tue 02-Apr-13 18:50:16

Do teachers really feel that their holidays are unpaid?

It's a fact - not a feeling.

heggiehog Tue 02-Apr-13 18:53:00

"don't you have time after the children have gone home"

No, sadly we have a seemingly endless number of planning meetings, staff meetings, key stage meetings, and clubs after school.

JassyRadlett Tue 02-Apr-13 18:53:01

Heggie I absolutely see your point (and I think teachers get an incredibly rough deal) but I think making that argument about holidays actually does your cause a disservice. Many people on similar pay are doing similar hours for a multitude of reasons, to get ahead or due to a pernicious long hours culture. But they get much less holiday time.


JassyRadlett Tue 02-Apr-13 18:54:21

Sorry - didn't mean the 'ugh'; autocorrect + toddler.

Feenie Tue 02-Apr-13 18:56:40

Heggie I absolutely see your point (and I think teachers get an incredibly rough deal) but I think making that argument about holidays

Again - it isn't an argument. It's a fact.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 02-Apr-13 18:56:58

I think this is a good idea. It will reduce the hours teachers work and give them better working conditions.
I am not a teacher (well not teaching anyway). I would support this 100%

HorryIsUpduffed Tue 02-Apr-13 18:57:18

heggiehog erm, I was asking? I wasn't claiming it doesn't take that long, I was asking why it does. It may be obvious to teachers what goes into planning, and there have been very illuminating posts after my earlier thoughts, but it isn't obvious to non-teachers - and my DM is a teacher with an outstanding rating so it isn't like I have no idea.

Showing the general public that for example a teacher can't even teach the same lesson once every year without preparation time because of differentiation gives us a hint. Telling us how many hours the average teacher spends doing grade estimates or writing reports gives us a hint. Telling us how long you have to spend chasing Johnny Smith's missing trainers helps.

The NUT can campaign for more non-contact time but unless the public has a clear idea of what that time is, they won't be sympathetic. Bear in mind that teaching as a profession has come on in leaps and bounds in the last couple of generations, so the public image of teachers still includes "sits at the front marking Y9 homework while Y7 do a worksheet and throws the rubber at you if you ask for help"...!

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