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Primary Education News
News Limit teaching to four hours a day, says union
NUT wants teachers' classroom hours capped at 20 a week amid claims many hardly see their own children and work late
Teachers have called for the time they spend taking lessons to be capped at four hours a day.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) passed a motion demanding a new working week of 20 hours' teaching time, up to 10 hours of lesson preparation and marking, and five hours of other duties, including time spent inputting data and at parents' evenings.
This marks a drastic reduction in teachers' hours, the conference heard.
In the last year, the number of hours teachers work has dramatically risen as a result of pressure from the government and the school inspectorate, it was claimed.
Teachers told the conference they had no time to spend with their own children or to eat lunch and often worked past midnight.
Most primary school teachers work just over 50 hours a week, while their colleagues in secondary schools work just over 49, the conference heard.
A current agreement between schools and unions states that teachers should spend time on "any reasonable activity" their headteacher instructs. At the moment, there is no fixed limit on the number of hours teachers work a week, although full-time staff must be available for just over 32 hours. The contract between unions and schools states that teachers must be available to work "such reasonable additional hours as may be necessary to enable the effective discharge of their professional duties".
Richard Rose, a teacher from Cambridgeshire, told the conference that there was "no time to eat, think or go to the toilet" in the working day. He said many teachers sent emails after midnight because there was no other time to do this. His colleagues had little time to spend with their children. "It's come to something that teachers don't have time to look after their own children," he said.
For the last six months, the NUT has been engaged in action short of strike action in conjunction with fellow teaching union the NASUWT in protest over workloads, pay and pensions. The issue of working hours is part of this.
The motion also called for a maximum class size of 23 in infant schools and 26 in other age groups. Teachers said the comparison between class sizes in fee-paying schools, such as Eton, and schools in the state sector was stark. At Eton, there are eight pupils to each teacher, while in state schools there are as many as 31 pupils.