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Mainstream Media Reports, Research on Education

Do NZ teachers work 44 hours a week?

timesheetI saw in a One News report that the teachers in New Zealand work an average of just 44 hours, and I have to say it came as something of a surprise.

  • That’s roughly 8-4 each day plus 4 more hours…
  • or 8-5 Monday to Thursday and 8-4 Friday…
  • or 8-3.30 Monday to Friday and 2.5 hours on a Sunday arvo…

You get the picture.

I concluded that 44 hours doesn’t match with my own experiences, but I am only one, so I asked other teachers what hours they worked. I only got a few replies, but each one was over 44 hours, and it got me thinking – where did that 44 hour figure come from?

So I went in search of the original report…*

Thanks to the Twitterverse and some hearty teamwork (thanks Tom), I found Insights for Teachers: A profile of teachers who teach Year 7-10 students and their principals, and it didn’t take long at all to see where the problem was:

The report notes that the average working hours number “includes both full and part-time teachers”

Well there you go then!

Throwing around the ’44 hours a week’ statement without mentioning that teensy details renders the information somewhat useless.

Consider this:

  • if one is employed full time and works an average 44 hour week, it could well be considered a win.
  • however, if one is employed to work 16 hours and yet work 44 hours, one would be less impressed. **

Lazy journalism means this finer detail didn’t get an airing.

The report itself notes that:

“There are some limitations with this measure [of hours worked]. In particular, the average includes both full and part-time teachers. It also includes hours for teachers with little or no management responsibility through to those whose time is mostly spent on management. There is a wide variation in the total hours worked reported by teachers…

We are currently doing further analysis to better understand the variation in total hours worked, teaching hours and the factors contributing to this variation.

So for the mainstream media to trumpet that teachers work an average of 44 hours a week and not offer any context is at best shonkey and at worst misrepresentation.

The researchers involved in the original report are looking into the data more closely. Whether the media will report it any more accurately is another thing.

~ Dianne

Sources and footnotes:

* Note to journalists, you really ought to link to the original research you are reporting, especially when you just copy and paste the bullet points without analysing the data in any shape, way, or form. Because, you know, that’s good practice. Thank you.

** I speak from experience

About Save Our Schools NZ

"One needs to be slow to form convictions, but once formed they must be defended against the heaviest odds." Gandhi


4 thoughts on “Do NZ teachers work 44 hours a week?

  1. Just for your fact file, I work an average of 60 hours a week and I mean work, as I have removed meal and casual chat breaks from that stat. I surveyed the rest of our full time staff and found an average of around 50 hours, not all worked at school, a lot of evenings and weekends at home. No classroom teachers worked less than 50. Holidays are a busy time here as well,couldn’t tell you the hours worked but hard to find a park at times. People like RTLB would drag down the average. I have done other jobs and can tell you that teachers are far more productive than any other occupations I have witnessed.


    Posted by Greg Patel | July 9, 2015, 12:33 pm
  2. That didn’t sound like enough to me. I average around 55hrs a week


    Posted by Anna | July 9, 2015, 7:36 pm
  3. I work about 55 hours too. But then we get more than 4 holidays. All teachers have some holiday prep or tidying too. I don’t take sick days except perhaps some years one or two when really crook. I tend to be sick in the school holidays as I hold off!


    Posted by Margaret Symons | July 13, 2015, 9:37 am
  4. 44 hours would be a dream compared to my current 60ish hours!


    Posted by Rebecca Ronald | March 10, 2019, 10:17 pm

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