Scottish teachers 'work longest hours'

Written by Gemma Fraser on 11 September 2018 in News

The profession is no longer a "desirable career", warns teaching union

Image credit: Bart Everson

Teachers in Scotland work the longest hours of any in the developed world, according to a new report from international economists OECD.

The report, entitled Education at a Glance, shows that Scottish teachers, on average, are well above the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average for teaching hours per week for both primary and secondary.

Scotland’s largest teaching union has warned that the profession is no longer a “desirable career” thanks to the soaring workload and declining pay.

Larry Flanagan, General Secretary of the EIS, said: “These international comparisons confirm, once again, that Scotland’s teachers work some of the longest hours of any OECD country with a very high percentage of time spent in front of the class.

“Coupled with the country’s continuing slide down international comparisons on pay, where Scotland’s teachers have endured a real-terms pay cut of at least 24 per cent over the past decade, this highlights the damaging combination of soaring workload and declining pay facing Scotland’s teachers.

“This has created a situation where teaching is no longer a desirable career for many graduates, with serious implications for teacher recruitment and retention and for education provision in many parts of the country.”

Labour’s education spokesman, Iain Gray, said the report confirmed that Scotland’s teachers are “overworked and undervalued”.

He said: “The SNP government claim education is the top priority – but we will not close the attainment gap without properly paid teachers, with the resources and time they need to teach.

“Instead of getting themselves into a mess over reforms to primary school testing and school governance, ministers should be focused on the real reforms our schools need – more funding.

“Instead, schools have been hammered by more than £400m worth of cuts since 2010. There has been a complete failure by the SNP to stop Tory austerity impacting on our schools.

 "The first step towards a world class school system is a fair deal for teachers, the government has to deliver this, and soon.”

Green MSP Ross Greer, the party’s education spokesperson, says the report is proof that schools need more teachers to deal with “unmanageable workloads” and a “complicated curriculum”.

He said: “The Scottish Government knows that teachers are working completely unsustainable hours, far beyond what they are contracted to and yet they continue to make things worse, not better.

“As this OECD report confirms, teacher hours in Scotland are amongst the longest in the developed world.

“A decade of budgets cuts has meant thousands of teaching and support staff going.

“Those left are saddled with unmanageable workloads and an ever more complicated curriculum, unhelpful national tests and unnecessary admin work.

“Teachers in particular have administrative burdens which prevent them from concentrating on preparing for and teaching their classes, unless they work the kind of unsustainable overtime this report documents.

“The SNP’s plans to take responsibilities away from local councils and give them to schools will only increase the pressure on staff already at breaking point.

“Half of all teachers in Scotland have said they might leave their jobs over the next year and it’s time the SNP stops pretending that the past decade of budget cuts have done no damage. It’s time they held up their hands, admit they got it wrong and work with others to fix things.”

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