IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Teachers and education leaders find workloads remain unacceptably high

18 April 2023

One of the largest surveys of teachers and leaders in England reports concerns about workload and pay, as well as insights on job satisfaction, student behaviour and career plans.

Mid-50s woman reading a book in a library with her head in her hands. Credit: Ermolaev Alexandr

The findings, coming at a time of ongoing industrial action around teacher pay, were announced in a report published by the Department for Education (DfE) last week. 

The report reveals findings from the first year of the longitudinal Working Lives of Teachers and Leaders study, which captured responses from over 11,177 education leaders and teachers during spring 2022. 

The study found that full-time teachers worked 52 hours per week on average, while full time leaders worked nearly 58 hours per week on average.  

As a result, the study revealed that almost three quarters of those surveyed said that their workload was not acceptable, while nearly two thirds felt that they didn’t have sufficient control over their own workload. 

Additionally, while most teachers (84%) said that they enjoyed classroom teaching, 61% of teachers and leaders reported they were unsatisfied with the salary they receive for the work they do. 

The study authors commented that while these findings raise concern over the profession’s sustainability, they also identified positive effects between job satisfaction and professional development. Almost all (98%) reported undertaking continuous professional development (CPD) in the last year, and the more time teachers and leaders spent engaging in formal CPD, the more likely they were to report good overall job satisfaction all or most of the time. 

Flexible working arrangements, which 40% of teachers and leaders reported having, were also linked to higher overall job satisfaction as well as an increased likelihood of feeling valued by their school. 

Study co-author Dr Becky Taylor said: “This wave 1 report gives us new insights into the realities of teachers’ and school leaders’ working lives and the challenges and opportunities they face. We look forward to enhancing our understanding of how teachers’ work and careers develop over time and seeing the research inform future policy.” 

The Working Lives of Teachers and Leaders study will continue capturing these professionals’ experiences and views over a total of 5 years. Delivered jointly by IFF Research and IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society, it has been designed to help the DfE design policies to better support teachers and leaders and improve their recruitment and retention. 

IFF Research Director Lorna Adams said: “It’s really exciting to see the results of the first year of the study published. The size and the longitudinal nature of the study give us a great opportunity to understand the experiences of teachers and leaders in England, and the findings will be instrumental in informing policy decisions for teachers and leaders in the coming years.” 



Credit: Ermolaev Alexandr / Adobe Stock