The fact that "only teachers in Japan and the Canadian province of Alberta work longer hours" than those in England is absolutely disgraceful (Morning Star,11/10/16). Whilst it shows the commitment and professionalism of the profession, it also demonstrates the urgent need for change. Two problems are obvious: working up to sixty hours a week in such a stressful occupation is bound to be having serious repercussions on health, whilst the damage it is doing to hopes of ending the teacher recruitment crisis is colossal.
That the extra hours are found to "consist mostly of marking and lesson planning" reveals that the ambition and overzealousness of many headteachers are to blame. It is nonsense, whatever Ofsted and other so-called experts might say, that all lessons require detailed, written plans; samples are quite sufficient, especially as there are so many lesson observations taking place.
Marking requirements are clearly excessive, at both primary and secondary level. There`s a job, here, for the Education Secretary; parents, especially those of children in primary schools, need to be told not to expect every piece of work to be marked and commented upon. Far better to concentrate on the detailed marking of one piece of work every week, or even fortnight.
At secondary level, some heads seem to think that constant testing and reporting should replace teaching as the main method of improving results, whilst the underfunding of state schools is adding to teacher pressure. Add all this to the decreasing pay, you do, indeed, get, in Chris Keates`s words, a "toxic combination". Sadly it is one which this Tory government is content to ignore.