It’s no secret that state schools are stretched. Budgets have been lagging behind inflation for years and there is an ever-increasing need for teachers and support staff.
There is arguably more on the job pressure for teachers than ever before; especially as class sizes have been increasing in recent years. One of the biggest challenges facing the education sector is the number of teachers leaving the profession.
One of the most reported and increasingly common reasons for teachers to look for alternative careers is because they have had negative experiences at work. Rather shockingly, the National Education Union state on their website that more than 6% of teachers surveyed had been subjected to physical violence by pupils in the past year. A further 40% had been subjected to verbal abuse from pupils!
However, it’s not just the pupils that are putting pressure on teachers. When you consider the range of diverse backgrounds of children in the UK today; teachers can get into difficult territory when delivering the curriculum. This is because some parents may have particular ideological, cultural or religious beliefs that are at odds with topics. Indeed the provision of sex education actually led parents to protest outside the school gates at this school in East London.
It’s fair to say that dealing with unhappy parents could be the final nail in the teaching career coffin. When you consider that teachers are already dealing with increasing workloads, larger class sizes; increasingly diverse needs to consider, it’s easy to see how the job can become incredibly difficult indeed. However, one of the most important factors that we have yet to mention is the subject of pay…
What About Teacher Pay?
Teaching used to be a very well-paid profession. Teachers were remunerated way above the average annual salary, they had good pensions and fantastic holiday entitlement too.
Unfortunately, teachers salaries have not really been rising all that much. This is especially problematic when it comes to soaring inflation, high property prices/ rents and ever increasing travel costs too. The solution for teachers may not be as simple as searching for a new teaching job that pays better either because pay has stagnated.
Financial pressure can cause the stress of the job to be magnified. Things like chronic stress and burnout, while different in their prognosis; can present real challenges for teachers, pupils and schools too. Teachers who overworked, underpaid and burdened with the ever present threat of physical attack understandably not likely to stick around for long.
How Can We Keep Good Teachers in the Profession?
Teacher retention rates in many areas are at an all-time low. The main people who suffer are the children. The big worry here is that more and more teachers are turning away from the profession altogether. This is not a good picture, given that experienced teachers create skills gaps in schools; and attracting new teachers to the profession becomes ever more difficult.
It is critical that great teachers are safe in their roles and fulfilled in their work. As a society, we need teachers to inspire children and set the next generation on the right course. If experienced teachers are leaving because the working conditions untenable; then how are schools going to be able to attract bright new talent to the profession?
It remains to seen what will happen in the near future. It is fair to say that teachers need to have their voices heard when it comes to finding solutions. There are many challenges facing the education sector in the United Kingdom; and the main thing that seems to be lacking is funding. The UK government recently set out it’s plans for education. You can find more information here.