Scottish teachers ‘work longest hours’

Prospective teachers will be expected to undergo numeracy and literacy tests under new proposals
Prospective teachers will be expected to undergo numeracy and literacy tests under new proposals
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SCOTLAND’S teachers have a “significantly heavier” workload than those in England and many of their counterparts across the world, a major international survey has found.

The “Education at a Glance” report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found Scottish teachers spend 855 hours a year in front of their classes, compared to an average of 697 hours for those south of the Border.

The study, which compares 42 countries and runs to more than 500 pages, said teachers’ pay in Scotland held up well internationally, with members of the profession earning 95 per cent of the average graduate salary. Teachers’ pay in Scotland has increased in real terms by 21 per cent over the past decade, the report said.

While the number of teaching hours in Scottish schools has been falling, from 950 hours a year in 2000, Scotland is still higher than the OECD average, which is 782 hours for primary education and 681 hours for secondary education.

The OECD said the “teaching load” was “significantly heavier” for Scottish teachers than those in England.

At the lower secondary school level, only Chile, Mexico and the United States have longer hours of statutory teaching time.

While teachers in countries including Denmark, Hungary, Iceland and Japan spend less than 40 per cent of their time in the classroom, the figure for their Scottish counterparts is about 60 per cent.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) union, said: “This report shows the dedication of Scotland’s teachers – who work many more hours than they are contracted to – and also highlights the workload pressure that teachers have to deal with in the course of their jobs. In an environment of budget cuts, falling teacher numbers and rising class sizes, local authorities and the Scottish Government must look very closely at this report and consider how they can better support Scotland’s teachers and Scotland’s education system.”

Under the McCrone deal introduced in 2001, Scottish teachers are contracted to work 35 hours a week, with 22.5 hours spent teaching.

The OECD report, which uses figures for an entire year, shows 855 of the 1,365 statutory working hours are spent in the classroom. According to the report, English teachers, who have to contend with larger class sizes, currently spend around 55 per cent of their time teaching.

Elsewhere in the report, the research said the UK has the most socially segregated education in the developed world, with the children of poorly educated parents or immigrant families often concentrated together in the same schools.

Report author Andreas Schleicher said that social segregation, according to the OECD’s indicators, is “one of the biggest contextual challenges for the UK”. However, the report also found that the UK does better than many other countries in helping to improve people’s opportunities through education.

More than 40 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds in the UK have achieved a higher level of education than their parents, compared with an OECD average of 37 per cent.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Overall, the OECD report is a positive reflection on Scottish education and the range of progress being made in schools.”