Press and Journal

Scotland’s teachers work longer hours than international average

Hours teachers in Scotland can be required to work are higher than average, an international education survey has shown.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report shows primary and secondary school teachers in Scotland can be asked to teach for up to 855 hours per year, compared to an OECD average ranging from 784-656 hours.

The report found teaching time tops 800 hours in just seven places surveyed – Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Latvia, Mexico, the US and Scotland.

In Chile and Scotland these are the maximum hours teachers could be required to teach, not the typical workload.

Researchers found Scottish teachers spend more than 60% of their working time in the classroom teaching, behind only Colombia at around 75%.

Teachers’ pay in Scotland was shown to be slightly under the OECD average and behind England, despite the report finding a 10% decrease in pay in England between 2005-2017 compared to a slight drop in Scotland.

Larry Flanagan, General Secretary of the EIS teaching union, 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% 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 figures show Scotland’s teachers are “overworked and underpaid”.

He added: “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 in 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.”

His Green counterpart Ross Greer warned teaching staff are at “breaking point”.

He added: “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.”