Saturday 18 November 2017

Teachers work 24 hours outside class each week

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

SECONDARY teachers only spend half their working week in the classroom, a new survey has found.

Full-time teachers say they work an average 43 to 46 hours per week -- double what they are required to spend teaching.

But the survey also found that -- while the maximum number of class contact hours for a teacher is 22 per week -- teachers are doing slightly more than 19 hours a week in the classroom. The survey found their workload had increased over the past five to 10 years, mainly because of more paperwork and poor discipline.

The survey was carried out for the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) by a market research company, Behaviour and Attitudes, among teachers in VEC colleges and community and comprehensive schools, and included 12 in-depth interviews.

Key findings show that:

lEighty-one per cent of teachers say that discipline problems now take up considerable time.

  • Eighty-seven per cent report an increase in the carrying out of administrative duties over the last five years.
  • Seventy-two per cent felt that supporting special-needs students had increased their workload in the last five years.
  • Forty-eight per cent of teachers under the age of 35 and 45pc between 35 and 44 are involved in extra-curricular sports activities.

Outside of teaching, work such as preparing lessons, administrative duties, correcting students' work and meeting students individually typically accounts for 15 hours per week.

An average week also includes time spent planning with colleagues, organising extra-curricular activities, supporting students with special needs and students of minority groups, staff meetings and meeting parents. The findings endorse a spirit of volunteerism among teachers, with 35pc involved in sports and many more involved in other areas such as drama and debating.

Poor discipline has been a growing problem in schools and TUI members say the rising workload is not confined to students with behavioural difficulties but a general increase in the tendency among teenagers to unduly challenge authority and disregard school rules and regulations.

They say they are dealing with more foul language, lack of homework, lack of class materials, limited attention spans and even violent conduct.


The discipline problem is attributed to a range of societal factors, from lack of parental interest to abuse of alcohol by students and, as a result, some teachers spend extra hours coaching more willing students.

Educators are also concerned that their role is becoming excessively administrative, due to increasing legal and reporting demands and an absence of the necessary administrative, technical and pastoral resources.

Greater integration of students with special needs has led to a wider range of abilities in the classroom -- an average 11 special-needs students per class in TUI schools -- leading to greater demands on teachers' time.

"The role of a teacher nowadays has become a complex one, especially compared to five to 10 years ago," the research team concludes. "The range and nature of teacher duties appear to have greatly expanded. In addition, the nature of society and indeed children has also changed.

"These factors have all seemed to greatly increase teacher workload."

TUI general secretary Peter MacMenamin said resources for schools had been cut, promotional opportunities had been eliminated by a block on appointments, and a marked increase in disruption problems as a result of a rapidly changing social climate meant teachers were working harder than ever.

Irish Independent

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