Curtailing Working Hours, Not the solution to Retain Teachers


According to the Department of Education workload survey observed that classroom teachers worked 54.4 hours a week on an average. The heavy working hour shift is considered as one of the major cause of teachers quitting their jobs. Evidently, unmanageable workloads are the trigger point for numerous teachers quitting their jobs.

To grapple with the situation, to retain more and more teachers; just reducing the working hours of teachers might not prove to be an effective solution. In this regard, we need to mull over the reasons why teachers join in the profession. In order to retain teachers in the profession, it becomes imperative that we create space for things that really matter to the teachers and the young minds they teach. The drive for teachers to try to do everything possible within their ambit is what makes their job tougher than the others. Marking, data entry and paper trails are increasing day by day. To cope up with these, teachers end up with additive working hours because they know that these elements of teaching are of much significance to their students.

Another reason why people choose to pursue the profession is due to their self-reliance towards themselves and their belief that they will be good at the job. But amidst a culture of hyper-accountability, this feeling of self-reliance is prone to erode. Teachers constantly feel the pangs of “what more to do” so as to support the students.

A report based on Talis data suggests that it is not about how many hours the teachers work, but more about whether or not the working hours are considered manageable by them is what matters more. The researchers are of the view that this feeling of manageability is dependent upon the extent of support and resources they receive.

The scope of progression, opportunities for teacher cooperation, feedback, and effective professional help are extremely important. A study conducted by the Wellcome Trust suggested that subject-specific ongoing professional development improved the retention of science teachers.

All of these activities will require commitment and patience. These opportunities must be maintained and teachers should not be expected to carry out activities in their free time.

Sticking plaster approaches have become obligatory but these should be regarded as short-term fixes. Teachers ought to be rendered time, autonomy, professional development and collaboration opportunities so as to remain positive and remain self-reliant.