An International Comparative Study on the Working Conditions of School Personnel

JTU Institute for Education and Culture

09 July 2009

The Japan Teachers’ Union (JTU) is the oldest and largest union for teachers in Japan. NFER was commissioned by the JTU to undertake a comparative study of England, Scotland and Finland’s working teachers practice. The JTU compared the workload conditions of teachers in England and Scotland to those in Japan, in order to advocate for change to policies on Japanese teachers’ working conditions. The aim was to see how good working conditions affected academic performance.

The NFER approached a sample of headteachers, deputy headteachers, assistant headteachers and class teachers across England and Scotland, who were asked various questions about their working life. Finland was of interest because of its high pupil academic attainment, and England due to its compulsory national curriculum testing. Schools in Scotland were approached because of their similarity to English schools but without compulsory national testing. Representatives from the JTU also visited four schools in England and Scotland to observe working conditions and practices for themselves.

The report contains comparisons of the following:

  • hours worked
  • time preparing for class
  • perceptions of teacher tasks
  • pressures associated with changes to education policy
  • attitudes of student\families
  • difficulties with taking breaks and days-off.

This summary report is a fascinating insight into the differences in teachers’ working conditions across four countries.