Indicator D4. How much time do teachers spend teaching?

Highlights
  • Based on official regulations or agreements, public school teachers in OECD countries and economies are required to teach on average 1 024 hours per year at pre-primary level, 783 hours at primary level, 709 hours at lower secondary level (general programmes) and 667 hours at upper secondary level (general programmes).

  • In the majority of countries with available data, the amount of statutory teaching time in primary, lower secondary and upper secondary public institutions remained largely unchanged between 2000 and 2018. However, in a few countries, teaching time changed by 10% or more in one or several levels during this period.

  • Most countries regulate the number of hours teachers are required to work per year, including teaching and non-teaching activities. Some of these countries regulate the specific number of hours required at school, while others set the overall working time, including hours at school and elsewhere.

Figure D4.1. Number of teaching hours per year in general lower secondary education (2000, 2005 and 2018)
Net statutory contact time in public institutions
Figure D4.1. Number of teaching hours per year in general lower secondary education (2000, 2005 and 2018)

Note: The OECD and EU23 averages refer to countries and economies with available data for 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2018.

1. Actual teaching time.

2. Reference year differs from 2018. Refer to the source table for details.

3. Average planned teaching time in each school at the beginning of the school year or semester.

Countries and economies are ranked in descending order of the number of teaching hours per year in general lower secondary education in 2018.

Source: OECD (2019), Table D4.2. See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933980146

Context

Although statutory working hours and teaching hours only partly determine teachers’ actual workload, they do offer valuable insights into the demands placed on teachers in different countries. Teaching hours and the extent of non-teaching duties may also affect the attractiveness of the teaching profession. Together with teachers’ salaries (see Indicator D3) and average class size (see Indicator D2), this indicator presents some key measures of the working lives of teachers.

The proportion of statutory working time spent teaching provides information on the amount of time available for non-teaching activities, such as lesson preparation, correction, in-service training and staff meetings. A larger proportion of statutory working time spent teaching may indicate that a lower proportion of working time is devoted to tasks such as assessing students and preparing lessons, as stated in regulations. It also could indicate that teachers have to perform these tasks on their own time and hence work more hours than required by statutory working times.

In addition to class size and the ratio of students to teaching staff (see Indicator D2), students’ hours of instruction (see Indicator D1) and teachers’ salaries (see Indicator D3), the amount of time teachers spend teaching also affects the financial resources countries need to allocate to education (see Indicator C7).

Other findings

  • The number of teaching hours per year required of the average OECD public school teacher in pre-primary, primary and secondary education varies considerably across countries and tends to decrease as the level of education increases.

  • Required teaching time in public schools varies more across countries at the pre-primary level than at any other level. The number of teaching hours required in public pre-primary schools averages 1 024 hours per year across OECD countries and economies, ranging from 519 hours per year in Mexico to 1 755 in Germany.

  • Public primary school teachers are required to teach on average 783 hours per year across OECD countries and economies, but this ranges from less than 590 hours in Estonia, Poland and the Russian Federation to more than 1 050 hours in Chile and Costa Rica.

  • The number of teaching hours required in public lower secondary schools (general programmes) averages 709 hours per year across OECD countries and economies, ranging from 481 hours in Poland to over 1 050 hours in Chile and Costa Rica.

  • Teachers in public upper secondary schools (general programmes) are required to teach on average 667 hours per year across OECD countries and economies, but teaching time ranges from 405 hours in Denmark to over 1 050 hours in Chile and Costa Rica.

  • At the lower secondary level, teachers spend 43% of their working time on teaching on average, ranging from 35% or less in Austria, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Poland and Turkey to 63% in Scotland (United Kingdom).

Analysis

Teaching time

At pre-primary, primary and secondary levels of education, countries vary considerably in their annual statutory teaching time – the number of teaching hours per year required of a full-time public school teacher (for variations in teaching time at the subnational level, see Box D4.1). Variations in how teaching time is regulated and/or reported across countries may also explain some of the differences in statutory teaching time between countries (Box D4.2).

Across countries and economies with available data, statutory teaching time in public schools varies more at the pre-primary level than at any other level. The number of teaching days ranges from 159 days per year in the Flemish Community of Belgium to 225 days in Germany, Iceland and Norway. Annual teaching time ranges from 519 hours per year in Mexico to 1 755 hours in Germany. On average across OECD countries and economies, teachers at this level of education are required to teach 1 024 hours per year, spread over 40 weeks or 195 days of teaching (Table D4.1a and Figure D4.2).

Primary school teachers are required to teach an average of 783 hours per year in public institutions. In most countries with available data, daily teaching time ranges from three to six hours a day, with an OECD average of more than four hours per day. There is no set rule on how teaching time is distributed throughout the year. For example, primary school teachers in Costa Rica must teach 1 188 hours per year, over 160 hours more than in Latvia. However as teachers teach more days in Costa Rica than in Latvia (198 days compared to 170 days), teachers in both countries teach on average 6 hours a day (Table D4.1a).

Box D4.1. Teaching and working time at the subnational level

Differences are observed across regions in teachers’ statutory teaching and working time among the four countries (Belgium, Canada, Korea and the United Kingdom) reporting subnational data. In 2018, the number of weeks of teaching (at pre-primary, primary, and lower and upper secondary levels) varied between regions in two of these countries: by one week in Belgium (from 36 to 37 weeks) and by two weeks in Canada (from 36 to 38 weeks). In Korea and the United Kingdom, the number of weeks of teaching is the same across all subnational regions. However, overall figures for the number of weeks of teaching can mask difference in teaching time in terms of days or hours of teaching at the subnational level.

The countries show different patterns of variation at the subnational level. In Belgium, the number of days of teaching varies much more (in relative terms) between the French and Flemish communities than the number of hours of teaching (except in vocational upper secondary programmes). For example, in general upper secondary programmes, the number of days of teaching is 12% higher in the French Community than in the Flemish Community (179 days compared to 160 days) due to differences in how the number of school days is defined in the regulations. However, teaching hours vary by only 4% between the two communities (622 hours in the Flemish Community compared to 596 hours in the French Community). In contrast, the number of days teaching at primary and secondary levels varies by up to 6% across the different provinces/territories in Canada (ranging from 180 days to 190 days), but teaching hours vary much more between subnational regions. At the primary level, teaching time in the region with the longest teaching hours is 29% higher than teaching time in the region with the shortest teaching hours (905 hours compared to 700 hours). The difference between the regions reaches 58% for general programmes at the lower secondary level (971 hours compared to 615 hours) and 52% for general programmes at the upper secondary level (934 hours compared to 615 hours). In Korea, there is no variation between subnational entities in the number of teaching days, but teaching hours for general programmes vary by 8% at upper secondary level (from 522 to 564 hours) and by 24% at lower secondary level (from 454 to 561 hours).

However, caution is necessary when comparing information at the subnational level, considering potential differences in the regulations between countries and between subnational regions within countries, and in the way data are reported for the different subnational regions. For example typical teaching time is reported for the subnational regions of Belgium, but maximum or estimated teaching time is reported for the different subnational regions in Canada (for more information on potential differences in the data reported, see Box D4.2).

Source: Education at a Glance Database. http://stats.oecd.org

Lower secondary school teachers in general programmes in public institutions are required to teach an average of 709 hours per year. Teaching time is less than 600 hours in Finland, Korea, Poland, the Russian Federation and Turkey, and exceeds 1 000 hours in Chile, Costa Rica, Latvia and Mexico. However, the reported hours in Finland and Korea refer to the minimum time teachers are required to teach (Box D4.2) and teachers in Poland can be obliged to teach as much as 25% of the statutory time as additional overtime, at the discretion of the school head (at the lower secondary level).

Figure D4.2. Number of teaching hours per year, by level of education (2018)
Net statutory contact time in public institutions
Figure D4.2. Number of teaching hours per year, by level of education (2018)

1. Actual teaching time.

2. Reference year differs from 2018. Refer to the source table for details.

3. Average planned teaching time in each school at the beginning of the school year or semester.

Countries and economies are ranked in descending order of the number of teaching hours per year in general upper secondary education.

Source: OECD (2019), Table D4.1a. See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933980165

A teacher in general upper secondary education in public institutions has an average teaching load of 667 hours per year. Teaching time ranges from fewer than 500 hours per year in Denmark, Iceland, Poland, the Russian Federation and Turkey to more than 1 000 hours in Chile, Costa Rica and Latvia, although in Chile the reported hours refer to the maximum time teachers can be required to teach, not their typical teaching load (Box D4.2). Teachers in Finland, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Norway, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Turkey teach for three hours or less per day, on average, compared to six hours or more in Costa Rica and Latvia (Table D4.1a).

Differences in teaching time by level of education

Teaching time tends to decrease as the level of education increases. In most countries, statutory teaching time at the pre-primary level is more than at the upper secondary level (general programmes). The exceptions are Chile and Scotland (United Kingdom), where the time teachers are required to teach is the same at all levels of education, and Colombia, Costa Rica, Lithuania and Mexico, where upper secondary school teachers are required to teach more hours than pre-primary school teachers (Table D4.1a and Figure D4.2).

Teaching time requirements vary the most between the pre-primary and primary levels of education. On average, pre-primary school teachers are required to spend almost 31% more time in the classroom than primary school teachers. In the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland and Slovenia, pre-primary school teachers are required to teach at least twice the number of hours per year as primary school teachers (Table D4.1a).

In Austria, France, Korea, Portugal and Turkey, primary school teachers have at least 25% more annual teaching time than lower secondary school teachers, while there is no difference in Chile, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Scotland (United Kingdom) and Slovenia. The teaching load for primary school teachers is slightly lighter than for lower secondary school teachers in Costa Rica, Estonia and Lithuania, and much lighter in Mexico (Table D4.1a).

Teaching time at lower and upper secondary levels is similar across most countries. However, in Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, annual required teaching time at the lower secondary level is at least 20% more than at the upper secondary level (Table D4.1a).

Differences in teaching time by type of programmes

In most countries, statutory teaching time does not vary much between general and vocational programmes. Focusing on upper secondary level, for which most countries have both general and vocational programmes, teaching time is similar in both general and vocational programmes in nearly two-thirds of the countries with available information. However, teaching time is at least 15% higher in vocational than in general programmes in Finland, Latvia and Switzerland, and at least 40% higher in the Flemish Community of Belgium (for practical courses in vocational programmes) and Denmark. Canada and Mexico are the only countries where teaching time is significantly lower (at least 15% lower) in vocational programmes than in general programmes (Figure D4.3).

Actual teaching time

Statutory teaching time, as reported by most of the countries in this indicator, refers to the time as defined in regulations. However, individual teachers’ teaching time may differ from the regulations, because of overtime, for example. Actual teaching time is the annual average number of hours that full-time teachers teach a group or a class of students, including overtime, and it thus provides a full picture of teachers’ actual teaching load. However, actual teaching time does not take into account that part of the teaching time in the classroom is spent on other activities than teaching, such as keeping order and administrative tasks. On average across the OECD countries participating in the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), lower secondary teachers self-reported that they spent 78% of classroom time on teaching and learning in 2018 (OECD, 2019[1]).

Figure D4.3. Number of teaching hours per year in general and vocational programmes at upper secondary level (2018)
Net statutory contact time in public institutions
Figure D4.3. Number of teaching hours per year in general and vocational programmes at upper secondary level (2018)

1. Actual teaching time.

2. Reference year differs from 2018. Refer to the source table for details.

3. Average planned teaching time in each school at the beginning of the school year or semester.

Countries and economies are ranked in descending order of the number of teaching hours per year in general lower secondary education in 2018.

Source: OECD (2019), Table D4.1a. See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933980184

While only a few countries were able to report both statutory and actual teaching time, these data suggest that actual teaching time can sometimes differ from the statutory requirements. In Poland, for example, lower secondary teachers actually teach up to 15% more than the statutory teaching time. In Slovenia, lower secondary teachers teach around 6% more hours than the statutory benchmark time, and in Latvia and Lithuania, actual teaching time is up to 5% more than statutory requirements. By contrast, in Portugal, actual teaching time is about 1% less than statutory teaching time at the lower secondary level (Figure D4.5, available on line).

Differences between statutory and actual teaching time can be the result of overtime due to teacher absenteeism or shortages, or may be explained by the nature of the data, as figures on statutory teaching time refer to official requirements and agreements, whereas actual teaching time is based on administrative registers, statistical databases, representative sample surveys or other representative sources.

Trends in teaching time

While there has been little change in average teaching hours over the last 18 years, some countries with available data (and no break in the time series) reported an increase or decrease of 10% or more in teaching time in one or more educational levels between 2000 and 2018 (Table D4.2 and Figure D4.1).

At the primary level, teaching time increased by at least 15% (more than 100 hours) between 2000 and 2018 in Israel and Japan (Table D4.2). In Israel, this increase in teaching (and working) time is part of the “New Horizon” reform that has been gradually implemented since 2008. One of the key measures of this reform was to lengthen teachers’ working week to accommodate small-group teaching in exchange for more generous compensation. Teachers’ working time was increased from 30 to 36 hours per week and now includes 5 hours of small-group teaching in primary schools. To compensate, salaries have been raised substantially (see Indicator D3).

Teaching time for lower secondary school teachers also increased in Israel, by more than 20% (120 hours) during this period. The increase at the lower secondary level was also significant in Japan, albeit to a lesser extent (more than 9% or 53 hours). At the upper secondary level, the largest increase in teaching time also occurred in Israel, where teachers had to teach nearly 19% more hours (99 additional hours) in 2018 than they did in 2000. A large increase also occurred in Latvia in recent years, as teaching time increased by 42% between 2016 and 2018 as a consequence of a recent change in regulations (Table D4.2).

In contrast, net teaching time dropped between 2000 and 2018 in some countries and economies. At the pre-primary level, among the few countries and economies with available data for 2000 and 2018, teaching time decreased by 10% or more (corresponding to 95 hours or more) in Portugal and Scotland (United Kingdom). At other levels of education, teaching time decreased by 10% or more in Mexico at lower secondary level (by 162 hours), in the Netherlands at both lower and upper secondary levels (by 117 hours), in Scotland (United Kingdom) at primary level (by 95 hours) and in Turkey at upper secondary levels (by 117 hours). The decrease exceeded 22% in Korea at the primary level (190 hours). In Scotland (United Kingdom), the reduction in teaching time for primary teachers was part of the teachers’ agreement, “A Teaching Profession for the 21st Century”, which introduced a 35-hour working week for all teachers and a phased reduction of maximum teaching time to 22.5 hours per week for primary, secondary and special school teachers in 2001. However, even with this decrease in net contact time, the maximum time teachers at these levels in Scotland (United Kingdom) can be required to teach is still longer than the OECD average (Table D4.2).

Box D4.2. Comparability of statutory teaching time data (2017)

Data on teaching time in this indicator refer to net contact time as stated in the regulations of each country. The international data collection exercise gathering this information ensures that similar definitions and methodologies are used when compiling data in all countries. For example, teaching time is converted into hours (of 60 minutes) to avoid differences resulting from the varying length of teaching periods between countries. The impact on the comparability of data of differences in the way teaching time is reported in regulations is also minimised as much as possible.

Statutory teaching time in this international comparison excludes preparation time and periods of time formally allowed for breaks between lessons or groups of lessons. However, at the pre-primary and primary levels, short breaks (of ten minutes or less) are included in the teaching time if the classroom teacher is responsible for the class during these breaks (see the Definitions section).

Other activities for teachers, such as professional development days, student examination days and conference attendance, are also excluded from the teaching time reported in this indicator. However, days devoted to these activities are not always specified in the regulations, and it may be difficult to estimate and exclude them from teaching time. At all levels of education, at least two-fifths of countries and economies can exclude all or most of these activities from statutory teaching time. However, excluding examination days may be more challenging for countries. At the lower secondary level, about 40% of countries do not exclude them, and in 10% of countries, the information on whether they are excluded or included is not available. This may result in teaching time being overestimated by a few days in these countries.

Moreover, official documents regulate teaching time as a minimum, typical or maximum time, which may explain some of the differences reported between countries. While most data refer to typical teaching time, about one-quarter of countries report maximum or minimum values for teaching time.

More detailed information on the reporting practices on teaching time for all participating countries and economies is available in Annex 3.

Teachers’ working time

In the majority of countries, teachers’ working time is partly determined by the statutory teaching time specified in working regulations. In addition, in most countries, teachers are formally required to work a specific number of hours per year, as stipulated in collective agreements or other contractual arrangements. This may be specified either as the number of hours teachers must be available at school for teaching and non-teaching activities, or as the number of total working hours. Both correspond to official working hours as specified in contractual agreements, and countries differ in how they allocate time for each activity. In Israel, for example, recent reforms take into account working hours at school beyond teaching time. Regulations now specify the working time required at school, including teaching and non-teaching time. Following the reform, non-teaching hours at school have been extended, to allow more time for non-teaching tasks, such as meetings with students or parents, preparation of lesson plans and checking of students’ work.

More than half of OECD countries and economies specify the length of time teachers are required to be available at school, for both teaching and non-teaching activities, for at least one level of education. In over half of these countries, the difference between the time upper secondary school teachers and pre-primary school teachers are required to be available at school is less than 5%. However, in Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Portugal, Sweden and Turkey pre-primary teachers are required to be available at school at least 20% more hours than upper secondary school teachers (although statutory total working time is the same for both levels in Hungary, Iceland, Latvia and Turkey) (Table D4.1b).

In some other countries, teachers’ total annual statutory working time (at school and elsewhere) is specified, but the allocation of time spent at school and time spent elsewhere is not. This is the case in Austria (in primary and lower secondary education), the Czech Republic, Denmark, England (United Kingdom), Estonia (in primary and secondary education), France (in lower and upper secondary education), the French Community of Belgium (in pre-primary and primary education), Germany, Japan, Korea, Lithuania (in primary and secondary education), the Netherlands, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Switzerland (Table D4.1b). Of these, teachers in France, Germany (in some Länder), Japan and Korea are subject to the same total statutory working time applied to civil servants.

In addition, workload and teaching load requirements may evolve throughout a teacher’s career. In a number of countries, some new teachers have a reduced teaching load as part of their induction programmes. Some countries also encourage older teachers to stay in the teaching profession by diversifying their duties and reducing their teaching hours. For example, in Portugal, teachers may have a reduced teaching workload, due to their age, number of years in the profession or for doing extracurricular activities at school. Iceland reduces the working time of upper secondary teachers according to their age: 30-37 year-old teachers benefit from a 24-hour extra holiday a year and teachers aged 38 and over have a 48-hour extra holiday per year. In addition, upper secondary teachers aged 55 or over receive a reduction of teaching time (from 58 hours for 55-59 year-olds to 290 hours for those aged 60 and over).

Non-teaching time

Although teaching time is a substantial component of teachers’ workloads, other activities such as assessing students, preparing lessons, correcting students’ work, in-service training and staff meetings should also be taken into account when analysing the demands placed on them in different countries. The amount of time available for these non-teaching activities varies across countries; a larger proportion of statutory working time spent teaching may indicate that a lower proportion of working time is devoted to these activities.

Even if teaching is a core activity of teachers, in a large number of countries, they spend most of their working time on activities other than teaching. In the 24 countries and economies with data for both teaching and total working time for lower secondary teachers, 43% of teachers’ working time is spent on teaching on average, with the proportion ranging from 35% or less in Austria, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Poland and Turkey to 63% in Scotland (United Kingdom). While the proportion of working time spent teaching increases with the annual number of teaching hours, there are significant variations between countries. For example, Japan and Portugal have a similar number of teaching hours (610 hours in Japan and 612 hours in Portugal), but 32% of working time is spent on teaching in Japan, compared to 48% in Portugal. Moreover, in some countries, teachers devote similar proportions of their working time to teaching, even if the number of teaching hours differs considerably. For example, in Spain and the United States, lower secondary teachers spend about half of their working time teaching, but teachers teach 713 hours in Spain, compared to 966 hours in the United States. Only teachers in Chile, Israel, Latvia, Scotland (United Kingdom) and Spain spend at least 50% of their statutory working time teaching (Figure D4.4).

Figure D4.4. Percentage of lower secondary teachers' working time spent teaching (2018)
Net teaching time (typical annual number of hours) as a percentage of total statutory working time in general programmes in public institutions
Figure D4.4. Percentage of lower secondary teachers' working time spent teaching (2018)

1. Actual teaching time.

2. Reference year differs from 2018. Refer to the source table for details.

3. Average planned teaching time in each school at the beginning of the school year or semester.

Source: OECD (2019), Tables D4.1a and D4.1b. See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933980203

In some countries, such as Austria (upper secondary level), Costa Rica, the Flemish and French communities of Belgium (secondary levels), and Italy, there are no formal requirements for time spent on non-teaching activities. However, this does not mean that teachers are given total freedom to carry out other tasks. In the Flemish Community of Belgium, although there are no regulations regarding the time devoted to preparing lessons, correcting tests, marking students’ papers and other non-teaching tasks, additional non-teaching hours at school are set at the school level. In Italy, there is a requirement of up to 80 hours of scheduled non-teaching collegial work at school per year. Of these 80 hours, up to 40 hours of compulsory working time per year are dedicated to meetings of the teachers’ assembly, staff planning meetings and meetings with parents, with the remaining compulsory 40 hours dedicated to class councils (Table D4.1b).

Box D4.3. Working and teaching time of school heads

School heads are valuable human resources in schools who not only perform managerial duties, but may also be involved in teaching activities. On average across the OECD countries participating in TALIS study, principals self-reported spending 16% of their working time to teaching and other teaching-related activities in 2018 (OECD, 2019[1]). These school heads may be former teachers who decided to take other responsibilities in the school where they were teaching. A recent OECD survey gathered information on the way the working time of school heads is defined. This information could shed some light on the differences in working time of teachers and school heads.

Among the 27 countries participating in this survey, 21 reported that the same type of official document defines the working time of both school heads and teachers, for at least one level of education. Although it is not necessarily the same official document that is used as a reference for both teachers and school heads, this may suggest that these two jobs are closely related. In four countries and economies – England (United Kingdom), Israel, Slovenia and Spain – the definition of the working time of school heads explicitly states that pedagogical activities may be designated as a part of their tasks. In Poland, school heads are teachers entrusted with the position of school leader with teaching duty reduced or released. The working time of teachers and school heads are even similar in a few countries that reported comparable data for both teachers and school heads.

School heads may have some teaching duties in most of the 26 countries with available information. Teaching is compulsory for school heads in about one-third of the countries, while it is also required from school heads, but in specific circumstances related to the schools, in another third. In addition, in a few countries school heads are able to take on some teaching duties on a voluntary basis (Figure D4.a).

Figure D4.a. Teaching requirement of school heads by levels of education (2018)
Figure D4.a. Teaching requirement of school heads by levels of education (2018)

Note: Secondary level of education includes both general and vocational programmes in lower and upper secondary education.

Source: OECD (2019). See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933980222

In general, school heads’ teaching duties apply across different levels of education. However, in four countries, these duties vary between levels of education. More countries include teaching duties for school heads at the primary level than at the pre-primary or secondary levels of education.

In nearly all countries with information on the teaching time of school heads (16 out of 17 countries), the time that school heads have to spend on teaching duties varies according to characteristics of the schools or between subnational entities in the country. In 10 of these countries, the size and/or complexity of the school affects the teaching duties of school heads. In general, the bigger and more complex the school (based on the number of students enrolled, or the number of full-time teachers or classes), the less teaching school heads are required to do. This implies that heads of smaller schools are expected to act as supplementary teaching staff, providing support to full-time classroom teachers.

Non-teaching tasks and responsibilities of teachers

Non-teaching tasks are a part of teachers’ workload and working conditions. The non-teaching activities required by legislation, regulations or agreements between stakeholders (e.g. teachers’ unions, local authorities and school boards) do not necessarily reflect teachers’ actual participation in non-teaching activities, but they provide an insight into the breadth and complexity of teachers’ roles (for information on the workload of school heads, see Box D4.3).

Individual teachers often do not have the authority to choose whether to perform certain tasks, which are often related to teaching. According to regulations in more than 31 out of 39 countries and economies with available data, individual planning or preparing lessons, marking/correcting student work, and communicating and co-operating with parents are mandatory non-teaching tasks for lower secondary teachers (general programmes) during their statutory working time at school or statutory total working time. General administrative work and teamwork, and dialogue with colleagues are also required in at least 26 countries, and can be decided at the school level in another one-fifth of countries with available data. In 21 countries, participation in professional development activities is mandatory for teachers at all levels. For such mandatory tasks, incentives such as reduction in teaching time and financial compensation are rare (Table D4.3a and D4.3b).

Responsibilities such as being class/form teacher or participating in school or other management in addition to teaching duties are largely distributed among teachers at the school level. Teachers’ participation in school or other management activities can result in specific compensation for teachers. In some countries, teaching time might be reduced to balance the workload between teaching and managerial tasks, in addition to financial compensation. Financial compensation and/or reductions in teaching time are often available when the tasks are performed voluntarily by individual teachers (Table D4.3b).

Of the various tasks teachers might perform, full-time classroom teachers are either required or asked to perform student counselling in more than two-thirds of countries and economies with available information. However, in Israel, only teachers with master’s degree or higher can perform this duty (Table D4.3b).

Teachers do not only perform the tasks that are required by regulations or school heads; they often perform tasks voluntarily, such as teaching more classes or hours than their full-time contract requires, engaging in extracurricular activities, training student teachers, offering guidance counselling and participating in mentoring/support programmes for new teachers. In almost one-half of countries, individual teachers decide whether or not to perform these tasks. For these voluntary tasks, up to two-thirds of these countries offer financial compensation (Table D4.3b).

In general, requirements to perform certain tasks and responsibilities do not vary much across levels of education. However, there can be some differences according to the changing needs of students at different levels of education. For example, lower secondary teachers are required to supervise students during breaks in 16 countries, but not as many countries as for teachers at pre-primary (22 countries) and primary (20 countries) levels (Table D4.3a).

Definitions

Actual teaching time is the annual average number of hours that full-time teachers teach a group or class of students. It includes all extra hours, such as overtime. Data on these hours can be sourced from administrative registers, statistical databases, representative sample surveys or other representative sources.

The number of teaching days is the number of teaching weeks multiplied by the number of days per week a teacher teaches, minus the number of days on which the school is closed for holidays.

The number of teaching weeks refers to the number of weeks of instruction excluding holiday weeks.

Statutory teaching time is defined as the scheduled number of 60-minute hours per year that a full-time teacher teaches a group or class of students, as set by policy, teachers’ employment contracts or other official documents. Teaching time can be defined on a weekly or annual basis. Annual teaching time is normally calculated as the number of teaching days per year multiplied by the number of hours a teacher teaches per day (excluding preparation time). It is a net contact time for instruction, as it excludes periods of time formally allowed for breaks between lessons or groups of lessons and the days that the school is closed for holidays. At pre-primary and primary levels, short breaks between lessons are included if the classroom teacher is responsible for the class during these breaks.

Total statutory working time refers to the number of hours that a full-time teacher is expected to work as set by policy. It can be defined on a weekly or annual basis. It does not include paid overtime. According to a country’s formal policy, working time can refer to:

  • the time directly associated with teaching and other curricular activities for students, such as assignments and tests

  • the time directly associated with teaching and other activities related to teaching, such as preparing lessons, counselling students, correcting assignments and tests, professional development, meetings with parents, staff meetings, and general school tasks.

Working time required at school refers to the time teachers are required to spend working at school, including teaching and non-teaching time.

Methodology

In interpreting differences in teaching hours among countries, net contact time, as used here, does not necessarily correspond to the teaching load. Although contact time is a substantial component of teachers’ workloads, preparing for classes and necessary follow-up, including correcting students’ work, also need to be included when making comparisons. Other relevant elements, such as the number of subjects taught, the number of students taught and the number of years a teacher teaches the same students, should also be taken into account.

For more information please see the OECD Handbook for Internationally Comparable Education Statistics 2018 (OECD, 2018[2]) and Annex 3 for country specific notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

Source

Data are from the 2018 OECD-INES Survey on Teachers and the Curriculum and refer to the school year 2017/18 (statutory information) or school year 2016/17 (actual data).

Note regarding data from Israel

The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and are under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

References

[1] OECD (2019), TALIS 2018 Results (Volume I): Teachers and School Leaders as Lifelong Learners, TALIS, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/1d0bc92a-en.

[2] OECD (2018), OECD Handbook for Internationally Comparative Education Statistics 2018: Concepts, Standards, Definitions and Classifications, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264304444-en.

Indicator D4. Tables

Table D4.1a Organisation of teachers' teaching time (2018)

Table D4.1b Organisation of teachers' working time (2018)

Table D4.2 Number of teaching hours per year (2000, 2005 to 2018)

Table D4.3a Tasks of teachers, by level of education (2018)

Table D4.3b Other responsibilities of teachers, by level of education (2018)

WEB Figure D4.5 Actual and statutory teaching time in general lower secondary education (2017)

Cut-off date for the data: 19 July 2019. Any updates on data can be found on line at http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-data-en. More breakdowns can also be found at http://stats.oecd.org/, Education at a Glance Database.

StatLink: https://doi.org/10.1787/888933981248

Table D4.1a. Organisation of teachers' teaching time (2018)
Number of statutory teaching weeks, teaching days and net teaching hours in public institutions over the school year
Table D4.1a. Organisation of teachers' teaching time (2018)

Note: See Definitions and Methodology sections for more information. Data on vocational programmes at lower secondary level (i.e. Columns 4, 10 and 16) are available for consultation on line. Data available at http://stats.oecd.org/, Education at a Glance Database.

1. Typical teaching time (teaching time required from most teachers when no specific circumstances apply to teachers).

2. Maximum teaching time.

3. Actual teaching time.

4. Year of reference 2017 for Denmark and Switzerland, 2016 for the United States.

5. Minimum teaching time.

6. Average planned teaching time in each school at the beginning of the school year or semester.

Source: OECD (2019). See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

Please refer to the Reader's Guide for information concerning symbols for missing data and abbreviations.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933980051

Table D4.1b. Organisation of teachers' working time (2018)
Teachers' statutory working time at school and total working time in public institutions over the school year
Table D4.1b. Organisation of teachers' working time (2018)

Note: See Definitions and Methodology sections for more information. Data on vocational programmes at lower secondary level (i.e. Columns 4 and 10) are available for consultation on line. Data available at http://stats.oecd.org/, Education at a Glance Database.

1. Year of reference 2016.

Source: OECD (2019). See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

Please refer to the Reader's Guide for information concerning symbols for missing data and abbreviations.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933980070

Table D4.2. Number of teaching hours per year (2000, 2005 to 2018)
Net statutory contact time in public institutions, by level of education
Table D4.2. Number of teaching hours per year (2000, 2005 to 2018)

Note: See Definitions and Methodology sections for more information. Data on years 2000 to 2018 for pre-primary education (i.e. Columns 1-15) are available for consultation on line. Data on years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017 for primary education, lower secondary education and upper secondary education (i.e. Columns 18-21; 23-26; 28-29; 33-36; 38-41; 43-44; 48-51; 53-56; 58-59) are available at http://stats.oecd.org/, Education at a Glance Database or via StatLink below).

1. Figures for the pre-primary level refer to primary teachers (in primary schools only) teaching pre-primary classes.

2. Actual teaching time (in Denmark except for pre-primary level).

3. Average planned teaching time in each school at the beginning of the school year or semester.

Source: OECD (2019). See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

Please refer to the Reader's Guide for information concerning symbols for missing data and abbreviations.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933980089

Table D4.3a. Tasks of teachers, by level of education (2018)
Teachers' tasks in public institutions as defined explicitly in regulations and/or steering documents
Table D4.3a. Tasks of teachers, by level of education (2018)

Note: Pre-primary, primary, lower secondary (vocational programmes) and upper secondary levels (added in separate rows) and data on reduced teaching time and financial compensation (i.e. Columns 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13, 16, 17, 20, 21, 24 and 25) are available for consultation on line (see StatLink below). See Definitions and Methodology sections for more information.

1. Criteria for the first two years of lower secondary education (general programmes) follow those for primary education and those for the last two years of lower secondary education (general programmes) follow those of upper secondary education (general programmes).

Source: OECD (2019). See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

Please refer to the Reader's Guide for information concerning symbols for missing data and abbreviations.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933980108

Table D4.3b. Other responsibilities of teachers, by level of education (2018)
Teachers' responsibilities in public institutions as defined explicitly in regulations and/or steering documents
Table D4.3b. Other responsibilities of teachers, by level of education (2018)
Table D4.3b. Other responsibilities of teachers, by level of education (2018)

Note: Pre-primary, primary, lower secondary (vocational programmes) and upper secondary levels (added in separate rows) and data on reduced teaching time and financial compensation (i.e. Columns 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 12, 15, 16, 19, 20, 23, 24, 27, 28, 31 and 32) are available for consultation on line (see StatLink below). See Definitions and Methodology sections for more information.

1. Criteria for the first two years of lower secondary education (general programmes) follow those for primary education and those for the last two years of lower secondary education (general programmes) follow those of upper secondary education (general programmes).

Source: OECD (2019). See Source section for more information and Annex 3 for notes (https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en).

Please refer to the Reader's Guide for information concerning symbols for missing data and abbreviations.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933980127

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