Home>News>Groundbreaking Study Reveals Alarming Teacher Workload in Scotland: Cardiff Metropolitan University Collaborates on Landmark Research

Groundbreaking Study Reveals Alarming Teacher Workload in Scotland: Cardiff Metropolitan University Collaborates on Landmark Research

​​News | 13 ​June 2024

A comprehensive study into teacher workload in Scotland, led by Professor Moira Hulme at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and co-directed by Professor Gary Beauchamp of Cardiff Metropolitan University, with Dr Carole Bignell (UWS) and Dr Jeffrey Wood from Birmingham City University, has unveiled significant insights into the pressures faced by educators.​

Teacher answer questions by pupils in the classroom

The research findings were launched by the funder, Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), at its Annual General Meeting in Dundee last week.

Teachers are working longer hours, spending more time addressing major disruption in the classroom and are suffering from increased levels of stress due to their jobs.

The study found that the implications of teacher workload for teacher recruitment, quality retention, career progression, and, ultimately, outcomes for children and young people deserve further policy consideration at Scottish Government level.

Commissioned in response to a resolution at the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) Annual General Meeting in 2022, the Teacher Workload Research Project aimed to investigate the extra hours teachers work beyond their contractual obligations and the reasons behind the persistent challenge of achieving a 35-hour working week.

The study utilised a multifaceted approach, combining an online time use diary, quantitative and qualitative survey questions, and semi-structured interviews. A total of 1,834 teachers participated in the diary study, documenting their workload over a week in March 2024, while 33 teachers provided additional in-depth insights through interviews.

Key Findings:

  • Changing Classroom Dynamics: Teachers are spending considerable time managing disruptions and behavioural issues. Main grade teachers reported spending up to five hours of their classroom time addressing major disruptions.

  • Increased Learner Needs: The study highlights a growing demand for individualised planning to support diverse learner needs, extending teachers’ working hours significantly. Teachers are dedicating more time to liaising with colleagues and adapting lessons for absent or excluded pupils.

  • Resource Challenges: Teachers expressed concerns over limited access to support and specialist services, which exacerbates their workload. Navigating referral processes for additional resources was found to be particularly time-consuming.

  • Out-of-Class Workload: Preparation and marking are the most time-consuming tasks outside classroom hours. Teachers reported limited time for professional development and increased accountability pressures, leading to more frequent and detailed reporting.

  • Data Management: Teachers in promoted posts spend significant time on data-related tasks, with many questioning the effectiveness of current systems. The demands for data often come with short notice and lack clarity on their educational impact.

  • Extended Working Hours: On average, teachers spent 11.39 hours on work-related activities outside school hours, including mornings, evenings, and weekends. This prolonged workload is linked to increased stress, particularly among urban school teachers, less experienced teachers, and those with higher class contact hours.

  • Impact on Job Satisfaction and Career Progression: The study found a direct relationship between extended working hours and lower job satisfaction, influencing teacher retention and career progression decisions. Several interviewees reported stepping down from promoted posts due to unmanageable workloads.

Professor Gary Beauchamp said: “This extensive study, involving 1,834 teachers and detailed interviews, provides a robust and high-quality dataset on the growing challenges of teacher workload in Scotland.

“This study highlights the urgent need to address the escalating workloads and resource challenges faced by teachers.

“Despite these challenges, the research shows teachers are working hard in their own time to overcome them to ensure quality education for all students.”​