Monday 17 December 2018

'Teacher overload puts quality at risk' - Increase in the number of second-level teachers who are dissatisfied

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Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The quality of teaching for the country's 350,000 second-level pupils is being put at risk by growing demands on teachers, according to a new report.

Half of post-primary teachers are dissatisfied in their work because of ever-rising and more complex workloads, a survey by the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) and the Red C market research company found.

Job satisfaction in the profession has dropped sharply in the past decade - down from 77pc in 2009 to 51pc this year.

ASTI assistant general secretary Moira Leydon said the findings amounted to "distress signals" from teachers, which could not be ignored by the authorities.

In a comment on the findings, the report notes that quality of teaching is the most important factor in student learning and achievement, and that teachers' conditions and work demands are crucial influences on quality.

While work demands and intensity was the focus of the survey, for younger teachers the most dominant theme in their replies was dissatisfaction with unequal pay structures.

The ASTI/Red C survey, conducted in January, found 97pc of teachers believe their work intensity has increased in recent years, 89pc say they cannot complete their non-teaching duties during the school day and 74pc report an "unacceptable workloads".

The Croke Park productivity hours, introduced in the austerity era, junior cycle reforms and increased paperwork and administrative tasks are key sources of the growing workloads, it found.

Second-level teachers spend 21 hours and 20 minutes teaching each week and, according to the survey, in addition to this, they say they typically spend 20 hours and seven minutes on non-classroom work. Non-teaching duties include lesson planning, homework marking and providing feedback, attending meetings and events such as parent-teacher meetings and open nights.

On top of that, one-in-three teachers works an additional five hours a week in an unpaid role such as class tutor, technology support or organising tours.

Helping young people was identified as the main source of job satisfaction.

ASTI president Ger Curtin said the work of teachers had changed significantly in the last 10 years. "As society has changed, the role of the teacher has expanded. The number of new initiatives in schools and the pace at which they are implemented has increased," he said.

"It has always been acknowledged that teaching is a stressful occupation, however what we are now seeing in schools is unsustainable demands, high levels of stress and low morale."

Mr Curtin said the issue around work demands and intensity "must be addressed as a matter of urgency if we are to maintain our high quality education service".

Irish Independent

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