Teachers' working hours and pay compares poorly to nursing and the police

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: iStock

Teachers’ average hourly pay has decreased by 15 per cent since 2009/10. This compares to falls of four and 11 per cent for nurses and police officers respectively.

Furthermore, the amount of extra holiday time that teachers may receive as part of the job is still exceeded by the long hours that they work.

The research has been carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) as part of its on-going Teacher Retention and Turnover project.

Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the study is aiming to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics within the teacher workforce in England.

It finds that teachers work an average 50 hours-a-week during term-time. Furthermore, it warns that even when we take school holidays into account, teachers are still working the equivalent of 45 hours-a-week. This compares to 44 hours-a-week for police officers and 39 for nurses.

On pay, the research finds that teachers have a real average hourly pay rate of £17,70, about the same rate as for nurses and £1,80 less than police officers. However, teachers pay has fallen the most since 2009/10. In addition, police officers and nurses can be paid for overtime work, whereas teachers are not.

Despite this, 78 per cent of teachers said they were satisfied with their job in 2015/16. However, only 47 per cent are happy with the amount of leisure time they have.

The report states: “This is a matter for concern, as workload is a big issue for teachers. More teachers leave state funded schools each year than nurses and police officers leave their professions. One reason may be the need to continually have to work a large number of hours to keep up with the job demands.

“This is consistent with our previous report, which identified that teachers who leave appear to be motivated by reduced working hours and more flexible working opportunities. Further work to reduce the hours worked by teachers should be a priority for school leaders and the government.”

Josh Hillman, director of education at the Nuffield Foundation, said: “Without action to reduce working hours, financial incentives to attract new teachers will be limited in the extent to which they can tackle the supply crisis, as teachers will continue to leave the profession in high numbers.

“Recent recognition by the secretary of state of the need to address teacher workload is welcome, but this research shows that a more ambitious action plan is required, particularly in the context of rising student numbers.”

  • The report Research Update 4: How do teachers compare to nurses and police officers? can be found on NFER’s website along with previous Teacher Retention and Turnover research reports. A final report will be published in summer 2018. Visit http://www.nfer.ac.uk/research/teaching-workforce-...

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