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Teachers’ claims of working more hours than ever ‘are a myth’

A new academic study has debugged the myth that teachers are working longer hours than they did in the past.

A paper published by academics at the University College London (UCL) revealed that teachers’ working hours have not changed for 25 years. Prof John Jerrim, one of the report’s authors said: “In some respects it’s a bit of a myth that teachers now work longer hours than they used to.”

Data from the Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey between 1992 to 2917 was analysed in the report and found that teachers’ working hours have remained between 46 to 48 hours a week for the last 25 years.

The UCL report explained that there is no evidence to suggest that working hours have increased over time. It said: “Indeed, we find no notable change in total hours worked over the last twenty years, no notable change in the incidence of work during evenings and weekends over a fifteen year period and no notable change in time spent on specific tasks over the last five years,”

Prof Jerrim explained that surveys released by the Department for Education (DfE) are typically answered by a small sample of teachers and therefore might not be representative of the truth. Former Government advisor, Chris McGovern says: “Teachers end up being used as pawns in a political war, they are being encouraged to think they are over worked.”

He added: “They are being weaponised to fight a campaign against the Government, and encouraged to have a sense of grievance.”

A spokesperson for the DfE said: “We have been making concerted efforts to reduce workload driven by unnecessary tasks. And we will continue our work with the sector to drive down on these burdensome tasks outside the classroom so that teachers are free to do what they do best – teach.”

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