Teacher workloads leave students missing out on extra-curricular activities

According to a survey measuring the impact of teacher workload, today’s students are missing out on extra-curricular activities because of teacher workload.

New research published today reveals that over 70% of teachers surveyed agree that students have less access to extra-curricular activities because of teacher workload, with nearly half of respondents seeking mental health support due to job-related stress.

Extracurricular activities are important in developing soft, social skills as well as being associated with a range of other positive outcomes such as achievement and attendance at school. Yet, due to the demands of teacher workload, participants agree that access to these learning opportunities is being reduced.

The research, commissioned by education technology company Sparx, suggests that the demands of the national curriculum, time spent on ineffective written marking, and Ofsted are key pressure points for teachers whose extreme workload is impacting students who subsequently have less access to extra-curricular activities.

The research, which surveyed over 1,000 primary and secondary school teachers in the UK also revealed the ever-widening impact of teachers’ increasing workload and its influence on the current teacher recruitment and retention crisis with key statistics including:

  • Almost half (46%) of teachers have sought mental health support due to stress related to their job.
  • 90% of teachers agree that the demands of the school curriculum contribute to extreme workload.
  • 70% of teachers would discourage someone from joining the teaching profession due to workload expectations
  • Despite Ofsted’s new focus on teacher wellbeing, only 26% of respondents agreed that this focus would reduce teacher workload.
  • Addressing staff mental health and wellbeing concerns, the survey also shed light on the immediacy of workload pressures, with over 56% of young teachers (aged 18-24) having sought mental health support as a result of teaching demands and stress related to their job


Despite these challenges and the urgent need to reduce workload pressures, teachers’ priorities continue to be altruistic and support the development of their students, with 72% of teachers surveyed agreeing that they would like to spend more time on personalised student support, exam preparation and Continued Professional Development.

Jo Williams, Deputy Head of Maths, Coombeshead Academy said: “Our school tries to provide a wide range of extra-curricular activities for students, but the workload of teachers can make this a challenge. If staff have piles of marking and paperwork then activities and clubs have to be cancelled which means students miss out on valuable enrichment activities. Extra-curricular activities help children to broaden their understanding of a subject, to contextualise their learning and to develop softer skills like communication and team working.”

Hannah White, Head of Maths and Assistant Head at All Saints Academy Plymouth said: “Until very recently managing my workload had been a constant challenge. There was never enough time to plan lessons, find resources or think ahead. This excessive burden on workload really took a toll on my mental health. This school year, things are much better. We’ve introduced some new maths focused educational technology which has saved lots of time. It’s been transformative, it has given me the time back to be able to focus on the reason why I got into the profession – the teaching.”

With 90% of teachers agreeing that they would welcome access to technology to reduce workloads, it’s important that Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson continues his advocacy of
innovative education technology in playing a central role in affecting positive change.

Dan Sandhu, CEO at Sparx said: “Addressing a challenge as detrimental as teacher workload demands the cooperation and collaboration of the education sector as a whole. It is vital to ensure that young people have the skills and knowledge to thrive in life and fulfil their potential. We understand the significance of supporting teachers and students and are committed to bringing together education leaders, policy makers, teachers, parents and education technology innovators to find impactful and sustainable solutions.”

Committed to driving innovation in the education technology sector to support teacher workload, Sparx helps schools adopt evidence-based technology resources to remove time-consuming day- to-day tasks such as lesson planning, marking and homework, saving teachers five hours per week (based on a teacher with 10 classes per week).