ACER Report Reveals ACT Teachers Working 50 Hour Weeks

Teacher workload has increased across the country and ACT teachers are working even longer than their interstate colleagues, the Staff in Australia’s Schools (SiAS) Report has revealed.

Report finds ACT teachers are working 50 hour weeks

The report, produced by the Australian Council for Educational Research, found that ACT primary school teachers are working over 50 hours a week on average.

This is well above the average for Australian primary teachers of 47.9 hours per week which, in turn, has increased from 45.8 hours in 2010.

ACT secondary teachers work 49 hour weeks. Again, this is significantly higher than the Australian average of 47.6, which itself has increased from 46 hours in 2010.

Minister Burch recently dismissed teachers’ concerns about excessive workload. The Australian Council for Educational Research has now found that ACT teachers are working 50 hour weeks – significantly longer than their interstate colleagues.

These findings come on top of a recent OECD report which found that ACT teachers work significantly longer than their colleagues in other developed economies. It is now time for the Minister to listen to the data.

We call on Minister Burch to engage in a genuine dialogue. If we don’t address these issues now, it is our students who will suffer. Teachers who are overworked and stressed are less able to tend to students’ individual needs and don’t have time to refine their practice through professional collaboration.

Workload driving talented teachers away from the profession

It is also deeply worrying that excessive workload may be driving talented teachers away from the profession. 7.1% of ACT primary school teachers are planning to leave the profession and 36.6% are unsure whether they will keep teaching. 7.6% of ACT secondary school teachers are planning to leave and 36.6% are unsure whether they'll stay.

ACT Education Minister falsely claims teachers in Independent schools work longer than Catholic and public school teachers

A spokesperson for ACT Education Minister, Joy Burch, has sought to dismiss new data showing ACT teachers work an average of 50 hours each week by falsely claiming that independent school teachers work longer than their public and Catholic counterparts.

The Canberra Times quoted the Minister's office: "She said the report showed teachers in independent schools were spending more hours on school-related activities than teachers in public and Catholic schools, bringing up the average." 

This claim is wrong. The Staff in Australia's School (SiAS) report by the Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER) does not provide any data which compares sectors at the ACT level. As such, the Minister and her office have no basis upon which to claim one sector works longer hours than the other.

National differences not statistically significant, don't apply to ACT

In Table 5.12 on p.50, the report does compare sectors at a national level. There are marginal differences between the sectors but they are within the Standard Errors and therefore are not statistically significant.

Even if there were differences nationally, there is no reason to believe national averages can be extrapolated to the ACT.

Moreover, if Minister Burch thinks the national average for Independent schools should be the reference point (48.6 in primary and 48.2 in secondary), she must agree the workload of teachers in the ACT (50.2 and 49 hours respectively) is excessive.

Read More:

The 2013 Staff in Australian Schools Survey, Australian Council of Educational Research, April 2014

'Canberra teachers working 50 hour weeks, new figures show', Primrose Riordan, The Canberra Times, October 21, 2014

Log in to update your membership details and access member­only news and information