Teacher Megan Quinn says she works a minimum of 56 hours per week – not to mention a few more on marking and lesson preparation.

She is just one of many thousands of teachers in New Zealand said to be burning the professional candle at both ends.

According to the Education Policy Institute, most full-time teachers work an average of 48.2 hours per week.

But one in five works 60 hours or more – 12 hours above the limit set by the working time directive.

A teacher for eight years, Megan feels well supported by her school in Auckland and considers herself one of the lucky ones. She says she would love to commit to the job for the rest of her working life, but is not sure it is sustainable.

“Between the hours of 09:00 and 15:30 I am in my absolute element,” she says.

But she says coping with government changes in assessment and accountability, and, as she sees it, with national tests set at too high a level for some of her children, she sometimes doubts whether she can continue in the job she loves.

“It’s unmanageable for lots of new teachers coming into the profession in terms of what’s expected of them.

“There are so many people coming into the job who are committed and really want to make a difference but it can be demoralising and often teachers are exhausted,” she says.

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