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Teachers and school leaders have long claimed that increased workload negatively impacts results and teacher retention. However, scant empirical evidence exists to support these claims until now. Using longitudinal data from England’s School Workforce Census, this paper presents the results of a study revealing associations between contact hours, timetable complexity, GCSE performance and teacher attrition. This supports the notion that decreasing departmental average contact hours may lead to higher GCSE value added for that department. The size of this drop is equivalently opposite to recent estimates of GCSE gains arising from additional allocated instruction time for pupils, showing a fiscally neutral way for departments to improve teacher workload without negatively impacting results. Further analysis in this study links improvements in teacher’s contact hours, and the complexity of their workload, with teacher retention. Thus schools rethinking their use of time by increasing non-contact time for their teachers are likely to retain those teachers longer and raise their results in the process.
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