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NQT - school expects 13 hr days - can I do anything?

(76 Posts)
SandyBeachandtheDeckchairs Thu 24-Aug-17 21:17:10

Hi all Just in case my post sounds familiar I have recently name changed. I am starting a job at a London primary school next week. Have spoken to many teachers during the setting up days over the holidays and it appears that 13 hr days are the norm there. Every lesson work is done in a book, and each book needs to be marked before it is seen. Marking is done very thoroughly using various different symbols, coloured pens and comments. The sentiment seems to be that the staff are knackered and have had enough of the workload. If it's bad for them, it's going to be worse for me, and I am pretty old so don't have the wealth of energy you'd expect from an NQT. So, my question is: Can I actually do anything or will I just have to buckle down and get on with it?

OP’s posts: |
BlessYourCottonSocks Thu 24-Aug-17 23:48:35

Did you not work these kind of hours whilst on PGCE? Although the marking sounds pretty hideous (and wasteful) some schools do have staff jumping through hoops, and if that is the school policy you will be expected to adhere to it. I would have said 13 hour days were pretty much the norm for many teachers. I'm secondary, but leave home at 7.00 each morning, don't return til 6.00pm and generally have 2/3 hours marking/planning in an evening. I don't mean to sound martyred or unsympathetic, but this is the reality of teaching. Not sure what advice you want on 'can I actually do anything?'. You can't refuse to follow the school expectations on marking, I'm afraid.

Pizzaexpressreview Thu 24-Aug-17 23:51:53

it sounds pretty normal (hence all the teachers leaving teaching and posting in mn and all the worries about future of education.)

toomuchhappyland Thu 24-Aug-17 23:59:57

I teach secondary English and have additional responsibilities. I don't work 13 hour days. I arrive at work at 8, leave at 5 and probably do 1-2 hours in the evenings, plus about 3 at weekends. Some nights I don't do any work. It depends on the culture of your school. Our SLT are brilliant at reducing our workload. We have very manageable marking policies and teachers collaborate and do our planning centrally - I'm not making power points for hours on end. Our results today were really good and show there's no need for teachers to be marking books for three hours a night - all the evidence shows it's ineffective anyway. There are ways to avoid the ridiculous hours, but you do have to be in a school which actively supports teachers having a work-life balance. There's a reason there aren't vacancies at my school very often.

Hugepeppapigfan Fri 25-Aug-17 00:06:01

13 hours in school?! Yes you can refuse to cooperate with that! Directed hours are 1325 per year. That's all the time that your head teacher can direct you to be on school premises 'working'. However, teaching contracts state that you have to undertake additional hours to ensure your professional obligations are met.

I'm in primary and generally staff work in school 8am to 5pm with additional hours at home for marking etc. Your marking workload sounds awful though. EEF found that generally teachers mark for around 9 hours a week (

SkeletonSkins Fri 25-Aug-17 00:18:57

Sorry I really don't think this is normal. 13 days in a primary means either you are not working efficiently or the school is not working efficiently. There are lots of schools out there that do not expect this.

I'm Y6, maths lead and SENCO and I finish at 6 and rarely do work in the evenings. I do a few hours on a Sunday sometimes. I did more in my NQT and some days yeah are 13 hours occasionally, but not every day or even every week, no way.

Anyone experiencing this level of workload needs to leave their school as there's much better out there. I can get everything done if iWork 7.30 -5.30/6pm

Pizzaexpressreview Fri 25-Aug-17 00:29:54

I take back my comment about "normal." Long hours are normal, and on parents evenings etc I easily did 12 hour days but actually day to day 13 hour days are not normal. I used to do 8-4 in school and then a few hours in the evening 10-11 hours I guess if you count lunch as working.

kittymamma Fri 25-Aug-17 01:00:43

Hi, union rep here!

Directed Time is 1265 hours per year. However this does not cover your working hours, only the time you can be directed to do things such as timetabled time, meetings, parents evenings etc. You are expected to do any extra required to fulfil your role, which is where they get away with shit like this. However workload needs to be sustainable and ensure a home-work life balance.

Now in your NQT year this is hard to achieve as it is but if your experienced staff in the school are struggling then you are going to struggle more so. I would suggest giving it all you have for this year then moving schools.

When schools have established this behaviour as normal practise it becomes very difficult to argue against it (even the unions will struggle) so it is easier to move on and find a school that appreciates it's staff more.

I am secondary and assistant head of department in a core subject. I only work from home 4 nights a week for anywhere between 2 and 4 hours a night. I make an exception when I have exam marking to do too. This enables me to do all my work. On the occasions workload spikes for some reason, other work doesn't get done to the same standard. Lesson planning becomes textbook page ... and marking becomes more relaxed.

Teaching can take over your life if you let it. Personally I refuse to be that teacher-parent that's child feels that I value the job more than I do them. They are my number 1 and the reason I work so hard in the first place, so I make time for them and the job comes in second, as it should.

Rant over 😁

kittymamma Fri 25-Aug-17 01:09:05

Oh and... if you haven't joined a Union get it done. It's free in your NQT year and even those that "don't believe in unions" hmm should be a member as the union will also deffend you in case of false accusations in a way your employer might not. The two main ones are the NASUWT (cheaper of the two) and the NUT (which has just merged with AtL). Best to join the one with bigger representation at your school (wouldn't want to be the only person in school on a strike day!)

SandyBeachandtheDeckchairs Fri 25-Aug-17 08:08:50

Thanks all. Bless I didn't work those hours when I was on PGCE placement, each of the schools chased you at 6, and we only marked two lots of books per day maximum. I definitely did some long days, but it wasn't just expected.

I guess what concerns me is that it's tough on established members of staff too, I expected it to be hard, but for it to get better. SLT seem really nice, so not sure why they haven't made the policies more family friendly. 50% of the teaching staff this year are new so that should have told them something.

One of the teachers said that the only hope of change is if the head of the academy sees the new research about marking not making a huge difference to outcomes unless feedback is given on the day.

Kitty I also have a DD and don't want to never see her, that's why I'm feeling a bit bolshy about it all. I am a union member already, so will find out who the rep is at school.

My first day is next week and I am completely dreading it sad.

OP’s posts: |
Copperbeech33 Fri 25-Aug-17 08:15:41

13 hours working day is completely standard for teaching but no one can insist it is all done on the school premises, ( maybe they can actually, in academies or free schools actually, I'm not sure)

My current school insists staff are on the premises 10 hours a day. although you can be on the premises for up to 13. My previous schools were only open 12, then 11 hours each.

work at home normally 2-4 hours a night, plus extra at the weekend

Copperbeech33 Fri 25-Aug-17 08:18:31

Kitty I also have a DD and don't want to never see her

well, thats up to you. I left teaching for a while because I literally never saw my teens. I tried to make 30 mins in the evening to sit down and eat with them, but when this had been impossible for a year, I resigned.

See how it goes, it may well be that you find teaching incompatible with parenting, some people do, some people don't. depends on the school, the pupls, the teacher, etc.

SkeletonSkins Fri 25-Aug-17 08:26:23

13 hours a day is absolutely not standard. It happens, at some badly managed schools, but it's not standard day in day out, no way.

OP if I found the school was genuinely like that I'd leave. Honestly the school makes all the difference.

Pizzaexpressreview Fri 25-Aug-17 08:40:31

Seeing children is one reason I won't go back into teaching. That and I can't cope with having several hours to do every evening on top of day to day work.

I wonder if you're moving to my kids school - we have lost over 50% of staff and have a lot of nqts. Seems the way of it sadly, so many teachers (usually mums) leaving for "work life balance." We have few older teachers left.

FaceOnOff Fri 25-Aug-17 08:44:40

How much (if) you enjoy teaching prepends very much on the school, and it sounds like this school have got it all wrong. I love my job, my school do a lot deliberately to limit our workload. Every time there's a new initiative part of the meeting about it is looking at how the impact on workload will be limited. Most of our staff stay a long time and only leave for promotions or moving away.

"How do you ensure your staff's work-life balance?" is a question I'll definitely be asking in any future interviews. Especially as a lot of the things which add to workload (the over-marking, endless meetings, pointless displays, peer-pressure to stay late even when you don't need to) have no evidence base in terms of actually helping the children learn - which is after all the point. Even Ofsted don't want them!

MiaowTheCat Fri 25-Aug-17 09:07:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheSolitaryBoojum Fri 25-Aug-17 09:18:14

I agree Miaow, one of the good points about being supply is that I work from 8ish to around 5ish and mark what I can in the time. With the multicoloured pens, multiple symbols and whatnot. But if I don't finish, I can't take the books home because I'm usually not there the next day.
Many schools I go into are full of jobshares, nqts and those in the first couple of years of teaching, or supply.
The workload is crippling primary schools, and in so many cases, it is often at the whim of the head and slt, the variation of expectation within one town or city is huge.
So OP, get your not year done and then think about moving.

PolkaDotFlamingo Fri 25-Aug-17 09:27:27

I've worked in a school with a ridiculous marking policy and got out of there asap. I'm back in a much more realistic one now!

Tips for dealing with it:
Have whatever pens/stamps/stickers/other useless rubbish you need in a separate pencil case so you just grab it and some books whenever you have a spare min.
If I have a TA, I get them trained up and then they mark whichever group/child they've been working with during plenary/packing away time.
I try to mark as the children go, especially if I'm working with a small group.
Get the children to leave their books open on the table before lunch and whizz around and mark them before putting them away.
After each lesson, get the children to pile their books up, open, in the middle of the table and don't put them away unmarked.
If books have to come off the table, pile them in table groups so if you have a spare few mins you can just grab a quick group of 5 to do. Feels much less onerous.
I never, ever, take work home to mark. But that does mean I never go in the staff room and work through all breaks.
I do the majority of my planning on my laptop, on the bus, before and after school.

copper how can your school insist you're there for 10 hours a day? You would be way over your directed time.

Kez100 Fri 25-Aug-17 09:39:29

Although I am in a different industry, its not unusual for training to come with rather too much "them and not me" time. In part, because a trainee is learning and is unlikely to be as fast as experienced staff anyway. But use the opportunity wisely to get that qualified status under your belt and onto your CV and then, hopefully, you can look to move to a school that achieves work life balance to a better degree.

Littlelouse Fri 25-Aug-17 09:55:58

@SandyBeachandtheDeckchairs I'm sure I commented on your last thread. I am astounded by some of the comments on here: schools insisting teachers don't go home until they've been on site for 10 hours??? What the hell?!

My background: teaching for four years, including training year and NQT year, head of year for 2 of those years. Secondary English teacher with a heavy timetable. Best exam results in the school last year (three or more levels of progress) with a borderline group and I promise you that you don't need to work 13 hour days.

I NEVER do work in the evenings but do occasionally work on one day of the weekend. I get into school at about 7:30 and at least one day a week, I'm out the door by 3:30pm. Summer term, after exams, I'm gone by this time most days: so pretty much the whole of July.

Yes, when there are parents' evenings or events, I'm often in school until 7pm by that is the only time I ever get close to a 12 hour day.

If this turns out to be the reality at your new school, you must leave once your NQT Year is done: it's not fair on your daughter otherwise.

SandyBeachandtheDeckchairs Fri 25-Aug-17 10:51:13

Thank you, I will definitely try those methods Polka. I won't be taking a leisurely lunch in the staff room or chatting for too long.

I had wanted to ask about working hours at the interview, but was so desperate to get a job I didn't want to appear jobsworthy. Kicking myself now of course. As a cheap NQT I should have picked my first job a bit better. Oh well.

OP’s posts: |
PolkaDotFlamingo Fri 25-Aug-17 13:14:39

You're welcome. Good luck

BlessYourCottonSocks Fri 25-Aug-17 14:54:50

louse can I just ask how on earth you mark English GCSE (and possibly A level) essays with your heavy timetable if you never do work in an evening? Because frankly I don't see how it is possible. I too have a heavy (History) timetable - and last year I had in total 73 AS/A2 students, 58 Y11s and 61 Y10s. New GCSE for Y10s, New A2. Also had KS3.

It is simply not possible for me to set practise essay questions and mark them without working in an evening. PPA does not allow enough time for this. In fact - let's face it that is 192 KS4/5 pupils. If I spend five minutes per week on each one that's 16 hours marking a week. Ignoring the odd bit of tick and flick at KS3.

Littlelouse Fri 25-Aug-17 19:05:58

Hi @BlessYourCottonSocks - I'm a head of year so may have fewer hours than you: I'm on 35/ 50 a fortnight. Did have Year 10, 11, 12 and 13 though but remember contact time for us is approx 8 hours a fortnight, rather than having lots more students for fewer hours, as I assume you do. I also had KS3 classes.

Would always set one extended writing task/ essay question per class for homework each week and my school's policy is that students should be writing for at least 15 minutes per lesson. When I started out, I wanted to deep mark everything, which I found crippling but over the past couple of years, I've been a lot more intelligent when it comes to using peer/ self assessment. I'm now at the stage where students are able to provide feedback in huge detail and for the benefit of learning walks/ OFSTED, it looks quite impressive. In fact, I've been seen by OFSTED three times over the past four years and they've commented on it positively every time.

So, I don't mark everything. I also set one reading/ grammar lesson a fortnight for my KS3 classes, usually all on the same day so that I know I have at least a couple of hours to whizz through some books. Anything left over, which can't wait, I'lll take home and do early on a Saturday morning. I guess it helps that we're now two years in to the new GCSE spec and I'm happy with my SOW so planning takes a tiny amount of time as it's just tweaking and differentiation!

Lowdoorinthewal1 Fri 25-Aug-17 19:29:45

What year group do you have? Could you train them to use some of the symbols to mark their own/ each other's books? Bit less for you to do and they love self/ peer-assessment.

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