Spread Thin Britain – Summer Holidays No Longer Provide Teachers with a True Break

  • Teachers fit 6.5 days worth of work into working week
  • Nearly half of employees in education feel they are working harder than a year ago
  • Over two fifths education workers cannot switch off from work when on holiday

Workers in the education sector are each fitting the equivalent of an additional one and a half days work into the average working week, according to Randstad, the UK sector specialist recruiter.

In a survey of over 2,000 British employees[i], Randstad found that, on average, British teachers, lecturers and teaching assistants feel they currently have to perform the job of 1.3 people meaning they are covering 30% more work than one person should be; the equivalent of fitting an additional one and a half days worth of work into the ordinary working week. The education sector mirrors the national picture with the average British worker also feeling they cover the equivalent workload of 1.3 people.

While nearly two fifths (37%) of education workers feel their workload is suitable for one person, one in five (19%) feel that they are doing the work of one full time and one part-time member of staff. Similarly, another one in five (22%) believe their role needs two full-time people to manage the level of work and one in twenty-five (4%) feel they are doing the work of at least two full-time members of staff – as well as an additional one part-time person.

Nearly half (45%) of employees in the sector feel they are working harder now than they were twelve months ago while only 14% feel their workloads have eased over this period.

A third of employees (34%) said the extra work was down to an ever increasing focus on achievement levels and results as well as more responsibility, while nearly a quarter (23%) blamed job cuts. Nearly one in five (19%) said they were doing more work to ensure job security.

Jenny Rollinson, operations director of Randstad Education, said: “The education sector is under pressure to keep staffing levels as lean and as cost effective as possible. Cuts to funding and pressure to do more with less make this an understandable approach but it isn’t a sustainable model.

“Quite apart from the fact that those enrolled in educational organisations deserve the same level of attention as those who have gone before them, spreading the workforce too thin leads to burnout, mistakes and poor results in the long-run.”

Workload taking its toll

The rise in workload is taking its toll on the education workforce. 28% of employees feel more stressed now than they did six months ago, nearly two in five (37%) said it takes longer to switch off at the end of work than it did six months ago and over one in ten (13%) have rows at home because of work worries or stress.

Holidays unable to ease pressure

Rising stress and work worries also mean that holidays are unable to provide suitable respite. Over two fifths (44%) of education employees don’t feel they can completely switch off from work when on holiday with one in ten (11%) stating they know that  the work waiting for them on their return will make them feel like they’ve had no break at all.

Jenny Rollinson, adds: “The perception of those who don’t work in the education sector has always been that the long summer holidays are ample reward for the pressures that teachers face. The simple truth is that as these stresses increase, the holiday period is not providing enough respite. Traditionally, September is a slower period for the hire of supply teachers because permanent members of staff usually feel refreshed and can cope with the pace of a new term. If staffrooms remain too lean however, it’s likely that more and more schools will need the support of supply teachers far earlier on in the academic year.”

– ENDS –

[i] Research of 2001 consumers conducted by Canadean Research between 23rd and 30th July 2012 – further details available on request

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