Teachers work more and have seen bigger pay drop than police, study suggests

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Teachers work longer hours in term time and have seen a bigger drop in pay than police officers and nurses, research suggests.

It suggests that despite the hours and falling wages, most teachers are satisfied with their jobs and income, although many would like more leisure time.

The study, published by the National Foundation for Educational Research, comes amid continuing concerns about teacher workload and staff shortages, particularly in subjects such as physics.

Ministers have pledged to cut teacher workload.

  • Teachers – 50 hours during term time
  • Police officers – 44 hours
  • Nurses – 39 hours

Taking into account school holidays, and how much teachers may work during these breaks, the researchers calculate that annually, teachers and police officers work a comparable number of hours.

“Teacher working hours have been increasing since 2009/10, while police officer working hours have decreased slightly over the same period, though neither difference is statistically significant,” it says.

“We also show that the long hours that teachers work during term time substantially exceeds the amount of extra holiday time they may receive.”

The study notes that all public sector workers have faced a pay freeze or a cap on wage increases since 2010, which has eroded real-terms pay for all three professions.

It says that in 2015/16, police officers had the highest annual average earnings, followed by teachers and then nurses.

But it calculates that taking into account average hours worked each year, teachers have an average hourly pay rate of £17.70 – about the same rate as nurses, but lower than police officers’ real average hourly pay, which stands at £18.80.

The study also estimates that teachers’ real average hourly pay has dropped by about 15% since 2009/10, while for nurses t has dropped by about 4%, and for police officers about 11%.

The findings do show that 78% of full-time teachers said they were satisfied with their jobs in 2015/16, lower than satisfaction rates among nurses, but higher than among police officers.

And 79% of full-time teachers were happy with their income levels, a higher proportion than nurses and police officers.

But fewer than half (47%) of teachers said they were satisfied with the amount of leisure time they had, the lowest proportion of the three professions.

NFER chief executive, Carole Willis, said of NFER’s findings: “This is an important piece of research to gain insight into whether the difficulties faced in recruitment and retention are unique to teaching or common to other professions in the public sector.

“Our analysis shows that long working hours is one of the main barriers to improving teacher retention, an issue that is consistent with our previous reports in this series, and that working hours have been increasing over the last five years.

“Therefore, we recommend that further work to reduce the working hours of teachers should be a priority for school leaders and the Government.”

Ministers have announced measures aimed at cutting teacher workload.

Earlier this month, Education Secretary Damian Hinds pledged to cut teachers’ hours and workload in a bid to tackle staff shortages in schools.

In his first major speech, he promised school leaders that the Government would “strip away” pointless tasks to allow teachers to “focus on what actually matters”.

“It shows that a large proportion are unhappy with the amount of leisure time left to them and that their average hourly pay has plummeted in real terms since 2010.

“Unsurprisingly, we are failing to attract enough teachers into the profession and then losing too many early in their careers.

“Teaching has always been a demanding job, but relentless Government reforms, underfunding and ever-increasing expectations on schools have driven up workload to an intolerable degree.

“The Government – alongside Ofsted and ASCL – has committed to reducing that burden and we must now turn those words into reality.

“Ministers must also commit to fully funding a decent pay rise for teachers.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Teaching continues to be an attractive profession with average salaries of £37,400 outside of London, rising to £41,900 in the capital.

“More teachers are joining the profession and retention rates have been broadly stable for the past 20 years.

“We recognise that recruitment and retention can be difficult so we will continue to invest in the sector to help attract the best and brightest into teaching.

“The Education Secretary has already set out plans to work with Ofsted and the profession to strip away the workload that does not add value so teachers have the time to focus on what really matters.”

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