The Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has said teachers should not be expected to work past 5pm to help with them cope with the increased pressures of the job.
Mrs Morgan said teachers shouldn’t have to answer emails or mark homework after that cut off point to ensure that teachers were able to spend their time focusing on “what they are passionate about”.
She said that a school in her Loughborough constituency appeared to have struck “the right balance”.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph she said: “[At] De Lisle [College] in my constituency one of the thing was about not sending emails after working hours because it is quite stressful if you’re at home or at the weekend and you’ve got people sending off emails.”
But Nora Young, a supply teacher from Birmingham who has to work part time in a bar to supplement her wages, says these comments are just part of “a war of words with the union”.
She said she had to leave her full time job as a primary school teacher after 20 years because she did not have the time for her family.
She said: “Her words mean nothing. When are we supposed to do our planning and marking? Everything has to documented so that if Ofsted comes in tomorrow, they can see progression in pupils’ books.
“It will not affect our workload one iota. There is a steady drain of older experienced teachers who can’t keep up with the workload. They are not celebrating about not having emails after 5 o’clock because they still will.”
Alex Ford, who works as a history head at a secondary school in Leeds, agrees that Morgan’s comments seem “somewhat calculated to drive a wedge between teachers and their unions”.
He said: “Nicky Morgan wants to make a real difference then she needs to detail how workload would be cut. There is a huge amount currently is spent providing data and evidence for Ofsted or league tables.”
Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary, NUT, the largest teachers’ union said:
“It is a fine aspiration to seek to put limits on the working hours of teachers and head teachers, and to find a path towards a proper work/life balance. Sadly, schools cannot simply decide to reject the DfE and Ofsted’s accountability agenda.
“Nor can workload be entirely solved by better time organisation at school level, as reporting of this curfew seems to suggest. She should address herself to the roots of the problem, which unquestionably lay at her door.”