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Wednesday, 3 July, 2002, 09:58 GMT 10:58 UK
Teachers lobby MPs over workload
teacher working
Teachers say they spend hours on paperwork
Hundreds of teachers from England and Wales have descended on the House of Commons to lobby their MPs over what they regard as an excessive workload.

Teachers say they regularly work between 50 and 60 hours a week and their unions are calling for the introduction of a 35-hour week, as granted to their colleagues in Scotland.

Well in excess of 53 hours a week are being spent by teachers on their work

Doug McAvoy, NUT
The lobby aims to show MPs the strength of feeling of teachers, who want the problem addressed by September.

Members of four teachers' unions - the National Union of Teachers, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrawon Cymru - rallied at Westminster Central Hall before heading for the Commons.


The general secretaries of all four unions were releasing 638 balloons to represent the number of hours they reckon are worked by each teacher every year in England and Wales, over and above the hours worked by Scottish colleagues.

The NASUWT's leader, Eamonn O'Kane, told teachers at the rally that workload was proving to be one of the biggest disincentives in recruiting and retaining teachers.

"If the government is serious about attracting more people into the profession, teachers must be given the time and space to prepare, mark and give lessons," he said.

He called for a contractual limit on the hours teachers work, and for more support staff "to pick up the bureaucratic and time-wasting activities".

35-hour week 'potty'

The Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, has made no secret of her feelings over teachers' calls for a 35-hour week. Speaking at the NUT conference at Easter, she said the idea was "potty".

But a report by the School Teachers Review Body - which advises ministers on teachers' pay and conditions in England and Wales - said the number of hours teachers worked should be cut.

It recommended they should work an average week of 45 hours.

And it said they should get protected time for lesson preparation and marking.

It also argued for a greater awareness of the impact of government initiatives on teachers' workload.

Over-stressed teachers

Gerald Imison, deputy general secretary of the ATL, said "overworked and over-stressed" teachers would be demanding government action in time for the start of the new school year.

"The time for promises has passed, only action now will satisfy teachers," said Mr Imison.

"We realise that it will take time to develop and implement the full solution, but time is not now on the side of the education service."

Mr Imison called on Chancellor Gordon Brown to give a significant financial commitment to the education service in the forthcoming comprehensive spending review.

No life

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the NUT, said: "The government is well aware of the intense pressure teachers are under from their workload.

"Well in excess of 53 hours a week are being spent by teachers on their work.

"They have little time for a life of their own and tiredness is increasing but the pressure does not get any less.

"This issue has to be treated seriously - it's the main reason cited for teachers leaving the profession and we're all well aware of the shortages facing our schools."

Reports on the issue of teachers' workload in England and Wales

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See also:

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