Teacher opinions on workload, professional development, and the Early Career Framework: YouGov polling April 2023


Between 14– 25 April, YouGov asked 1,004 primary and secondary school teachers across the UK a series of questions about their workload and attitudes toward professional development. This ‘teacher track’ polling was commissioned by Ambition Institute.

The findings of this polling show that teachers do not view professional development as a major driver of workload pressures and want to prioritise professional development in comparison to other activities and tasks.

We asked YouGov to shape several questions to reference a specific professional development programme – the Early Career Framework (ECF) – as media reports have suggested that it is contributing to teacher workload. We wanted to understand how participating in the ECF – as either an early career teacher or mentor – compares to other workload pressures for teachers.

Polling results

When asked to rank the causes of high workload, teachers placed meetings and administration, lesson planning, and marking at the top of their list, and participating in the ECF and other professional development activities last on a list of thirteen contributing factors.*

Asset 5@3x-100.jpg

Full question: ‘To help balance workload and positive outcomes for pupils, in your opinion, which of the following activities would teachers ideally be able to spend less time doing? Choose up to 5.’

The ‘ECF / professional development’ option was worded as follows: ‘Participating in the Early Career Framework or other professional development activities (including as a mentor to early career teachers)’.

When asked which of those thirteen tasks* they would ideally spend less time doing, participating in the ECF and other professional development activities was the option which the fewest teachers selected. Top of the list were meetings and administration, preparing for Ofsted inspections, and marking.

Activities teachers would drop.jpg

Full question: ‘To help balance workload and positive outcomes for pupils, in your opinion, which of the following activities would teachers ideally be able to spend less time doing? Choose up to 5.’

The ‘ECF / professional development’ option was worded as follows: ‘Participating in the Early Career Framework or other professional development activities (including as a mentor to early career teachers)’.

YouGov's polling demonstrates that teachers place considerable value on professional development for new teachers. 86% of teachers believe that it is important for Early Career Teachers to take time each week for their professional development through activities such as self-study, training sessions, and mentoring.

Is Weekly ECF Important.jpg

Mentoring is strongly supported, with nine in ten (91%) teachers believing that being mentored by more experienced teachers is critical to the professional development of Early Career Teachers. Only 2% disagree.

Being Mentored is Critical.jpg

Similarly, nine in ten (91%) teachers believe mentors should be trained on how best to support, coach, and constructively challenge Early Career Teachers. Only 1% disagree.

It is clear from the polling that teachers recognise the value of professional development activities and programmes such as the ECF. Indeed, the publication of this polling follows a recent review into teacher professional development from Ofsted, which found that teachers and leaders want more time dedicated to professional development.

There is good reason for them to do so: high quality professional learning has been shown to be twice as effective as other school-level factors at raising pupil achievement.

Every teacher should have access to high-quality, evidence-informed professional development. Providing this is key to ensuring that every pupil, regardless of their background, gets the education they deserve.


Ambition Institute commissioned YouGov to poll 1,004 primary and secondary school teachers between 14–25 April 2023 (via an online survey). These figures have been weighted to be representative of all teachers in the UK.

*The full wording of the options from which teachers selected is as follows:

  • Behaviour management
  • Lesson planning
  • Liaising with parents
  • Looking after pupils' mental health
  • Managing extracurricular activities and school trips
  • Managing relationships with colleagues, including the senior leadership team
  • Marking
  • Meetings and administrative tasks (including data entry)
  • Participating in the Early Career Framework or other professional development activities  (including as a mentor to early career teachers)
  • Pastoral care and safeguarding
  • Preparing for assessments
  • Preparing for Ofsted inspections
  • Providing cover for absent colleagues

Find out more about us

To read more about what we do at Ambition Institute

Click Here