In a new international study*, the UK ranks among the highest in terms of time teachers spend on admin, which could otherwise be used teaching in the classroom.
The research, from Canvas, the Virtual Learning Environment for academic institutions and companies worldwide, reveals that one in six (17%) teachers in the UK are spending more than 11 hours a week on marking and assessments. This is significantly more than those in the US (9%) and Australia (7%) where the time spent on teaching is typically higher**.
According to the Department of Education***, on average, UK teachers work 57.5 hours a week, but tasks such as lesson preparation, marking, supervising children and other administration result in just 19.3 hours being spent in the actual classroom.
With marking and reporting taking up almost a fifth of their working week, teaching professionals say this impacts negatively on classroom time with students (68%).
The situation has worsened in the last five years****, with a need for teachers to continually track the performance of their students (78%), further inspections from Ofsted (65%) and increased benchmarking (57%) in schools. And with schools days set to become longer following the Budget, this is likely to be further exacerbated.
Online marking and reporting not only helps teachers, but in turn frees up more time to spend with students
Technology, including Virtual Learning Environments, can help speed up marking and collating data for reporting – but currently under half of teachers (46%) use the tech in their school as many don’t know how to integrate it effectively. However, among those who do, two thirds (67%) report they find it easier to monitor and track students’ progress, easing their workload.
Craig Ring, music teacher at Rooks Heath College said: “Since we started using a learning management platform in our school we’ve seen first hand the positive impact its had on both students and teachers. We have just been marking GCSE coursework and the amount of time it’s saving us is enormous. Plus, all of the feedback is in one place for a student and even throughout the Easter break we have had students updating their work within hours of receiving feedback. We’re also able to collate data at the click of a mouse, which massively reduces our workload. It’s a very useful tool.”
Samantha Blyth, director of schools at Canvas said, “There is no doubt that teachers in the UK do a fantastic job of multitasking; juggling marking, reporting and lesson planning, with face-to-face teaching in the classroom. But there is a growing perception that the sheer amount of admin is leaving them unable to do the job they love – to actually teach their students.
“This is where technology can play a vital role – online marking and reporting not only helps teachers, but in turn frees up more time to spend with students. When used effectively, tech then stops getting in the way of teaching and starts to enable it, leading to more engaging lessons and better outcomes for both students and schools.”
*The research referenced three studies, questioning a total of 3,328 primary and secondary teachers across seven countries: Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, UK and USA.
** Source: OECD Annual Education Report – November 2015
*** Source: Department of Education Teachers’ Workload Diary Survey – February 2014
**** Source: Canvas research – 62% of teachers say the time they spend on marking and reporting has worsened over the past five years