Teacher Workload Research

Created on: 31 May 2024 | Last modified: 05 Jun 2024

Part of the SU4QE campaign on Teacher Workload includes independent research on teacher working hours and workload experiences.

Following a competitive tendering process, a consortium from the University of the West of Scotland, Birmingham City University and Cardiff Metropolitan University was commissioned to undertake this study.

An EIS Steering Group and two teacher panels advised the research team. The research was carried out over March and April 2024, with over 1,800 teachers across all 32 local authorities taking part in a one week workload diary-keeping exercise, with a further 40 teachers taking part in in-depth follow up interviews. 

The purpose of the research was to address the following questions:

  • What are the main activities that constitute teacher workload?
  • What is the balance of this workload over the working week?
  • What extra hours do teachers work beyond their contractual hours?
  • Where do workload demands come from, out with class contact time?
  • What are the main reasons for failure to achieve a 35-hour working week for teachers?

The findings of the research will be considered and used to inform the EIS ‘Stand Up for Quality Education’ Campaign’s next step in addressing excessive teacher workload.

Summary of Research Findings

The results are stark and underline the scale of workload pressure in schools, and the impact this has on teacher stress:

  • On average, the teachers who participated in the research reported working 46 hours in the target week. This is 11.39 hours spent on work-related activity beyond the 35-hour working week stipulated in the 2001 Teachers’ Agreement.
  • The three activities that consume by far the largest time commitment outside contracted hours are planning and preparing lessons, preparing resources, and marking and feedback for pupils. These core activities are consistently reported as the main drivers of workload that cannot be accomplished within contractual hours.
  • Work beyond teachers’ contracted hours was the strongest predictor of perceived stress irrespective of sector or role. Workload burden leaves teachers feeling stressed within all aspects of their lives.
  • The research found that there is a direct relationship between the level of work undertaken in evenings and weekends, and reported job satisfaction. As teachers work longer hours outside of their contracted hours, they are increasingly likely to feel lower levels of job satisfaction.
  • Across sectors and regions, main grade interviewees commented on the challenges of completing data entry for tracking, monitoring and reporting within their contracted hours, especially regarding standardised assessment.
  • Interviewees consistently reported greater use of teaching time to address low level and serious disruptive behaviour, and administrative follow-up activities outside lessons to report incidents and communicate with parents/ carers/ colleagues/external agencies.

Workload Report
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