Teachers in England are on average younger and face longer working hours than those in other countries, an international survey has found. However, they are more likely to receive an induction and mentoring according to the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). TALIS surveyed lower secondary (KS3) and primary school teachers in England between March and May in 2018. A total of 48 countries or economies participated in the lower secondary school survey, with 15 participating in the primary school survey.

It found that teachers in England were generally younger than those in other countries, with an average age of 39, compared to 44 across the other participating countries. 18 per cent of teachers in England were aged over 50, compared with 34 per cent for other countries. Unsurprisingly, this also saw teachers in England having less experience than elsewhere, with the average lower secondary teacher in England having around 13 years’ teaching experience, about 4 years below the OECD average.

Full-time primary school teachers in England reported working, on average, 52.1 hours per week, compared to 49.3 hours for their lower-secondary school counterparts. Both primary and lower-secondary teachers in England reported working longer hours than teachers in most other countries that participated in TALIS. For lower-secondary, the average hours of work amongst full-time teachers in England was 49.3, above the OECD average of 40.8 hours.

The survey also found that teachers in England spent a greater amount of their time on administrative tasks such as marking than other OECD countries. For example, the average full-time lower secondary teacher across the OECD reported spending 4.3 hours marking per week, the figure in England was around two hours higher at 6.3 hours per week. However there were some countries, such as Japan and Singapore, where teachers averaged more than 7 hours a week on marking. The only area where England was below the OECD average for a non-teaching activity was continuing professional development (CPD). Full-time lower-secondary teachers reported an average of 1.1 hour per week spent upon CPD activities, compared to an OECD average of 1.6 hours.

In relation to CPD, the survey results suggest that teachers in England felt they needed more training on working with pupils with special educational needs (SEN). Just under 40 per cent of primary and lower secondary teachers in England reported a moderate/high need for CPD in this area, while around 30 per cent suggested a need for CPD on supporting pupils who had English as an additional language (EAL). However 56 per cent of lower-secondary teachers in England saw expense as a barrier to their participation in CPD, while only 25 per cent of primary and 36 per cent of lower secondary teachers said they had had their CPD paid for or reimbursed. Additionally 64 per cent of lower secondary teachers highlighted conflicts with their work schedule as a barrier to CPD participation. However, teachers in England were much more likely to have received some form of formal or informal induction when joining their current school, at 77 per cent compared to an OECD average of just 42 per cent

Commenting on the survey Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT union, said: ‘The barriers that teachers in England face to participating in high quality professional development and training are matters of longstanding concern. It is deeply troubling that TALIS observes that teachers in this country are more likely than teachers in other systems to report difficulties in accessing training, with many stating that work pressures result in them not having time to access important professional development opportunities’.

Education secretary Damian Hinds said: ‘These findings reflect many of the frustrations that I heard from teachers and heads when I first took on the role of education secretary…’ adding ‘We know that too many teachers are having to work too many hours each week on unnecessary tasks, which is why I have taken on a battle to reduce teachers’ workload so that they can focus on spending their time in the classroom doing what they do best – teaching.’

Full survey results: https://tinyurl.com/y5zf2obu

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