Are teachers being paid a fair amount?
There are millions of teachers worldwide, yet how many of them are paid fairly for their work? On average, secondary school teachers work 55-60 hours a week during term time.* Teachers are paid for the time they are at school, from around 8:30am to 3:40pm. They are not paid for lunchtime activities, afterschool activities or the hours they spend working at home. A teacher’s work doesn’t just consist of teaching. They are also required to spend time preparing lessons that are suitable and inclusive for all the children, marking work, attending meetings, contacting parents, meeting students, writing reports… the list is endless.
Teachers play a fundamental role in shaping the future generations of our world. However, it’s a job where their workload is underestimated; people don’t realise how taxing being a teacher is. They aren’t respected enough in our society. Once teachers leave the school site, hours after the students go home, their work doesn’t stop there. To be a teacher you can’t just work the school hours, you have to arrive early, before the students arrive. Furthermore, you have to continue your work at home due to the vast amount of preparation and marking that is required. On average, 21.4% of a secondary school teacher’s work is completed outside of school.* As well as the academic side of teaching, there is also the pastoral side. Students often need support and feel comfortable talking to their teachers. They often go to them, with anything and everything. Teachers will always try and help, whether it’s to do with struggling with homework, not understanding lessons, friendship issues, bullying, personal issues and anything else that may be troubling them.
With the important role that teachers play, they should be paid more. Newly qualified teachers are paid around £22,467 per year **. In comparison, newly qualified members of the police force are paid around £24,000 *** per year for a 37- 40 hour week which is less than teachers. This is not fair.
We interviewed a current deputy-head of a secondary school and a retired teacher to get their opinions on their profession. Both of them came to the conclusion that teachers aren’t paid enough. It is surprising how a police officer is paid more than a teacher when they are both government funded roles. A teacher also works considerably more hours than a police officer.
Due to more and more education sector funding cuts, teachers’ pay is decreasing in real terms. Prospective budget cuts mean that many schools can’t afford to continue hiring or employing some teachers. Many teaching assistants are now fearful of being made redundant. Things were not always like this. A retired teacher told us, ‘Teaching today is much more difficult as teachers were more respected in the past and students wouldn’t dare answer back or not do their homework. Nowadays, many students don’t respect their teachers. Teachers often leave the profession after a couple of years due to the low respect, pay, and being underappreciated. I used to love teaching, but it’s very different now.’
Interview with secondary school deputy-head
Why did you choose to become a teacher?
I chose to become a teacher because I wanted to work with children. After completing my maths degree, I wanted to pass on my passion for numbers to others. One way to do this was through teaching. When I was at school, lots of students used to say, ‘I don’t like maths,’ and I wanted students to enjoy maths just as I did.
What's your opinion on the teachers’ strikes in 2016; did they leave an impact?
My union didn't strike so I didn’t strike. However, workers, whether teachers or from any other profession, should have the right to strike if they feel strongly about a certain issue.
Do you think you are paid a fair amount for the hours you put in?
Yes, however this is only because I am in a senior position and worked my way to the top of the scale. New teachers often struggle, especially in London as they are unable to save a deposit for a new house because the wages are not very good compared to other professions.
Do you receive any support from the government? (e.g. pension)
Most teachers belong to a pension scheme which is very useful. However, we don't really receive any other support. However new teachers who join the profession may be awarded a bursary in certain shortage subjects (such as mathematics) as there is a crisis in terms of teacher recruitment.
If the government were to increase teachers' salaries, do you think that more people would aspire to become teachers?
Yes but it would need to be a substantial increase as there hasn't been a proper pay rise for a number of years.
Do you think teachers are taken advantage of?
I think people don't really understand the profession in terms of the demands on teachers and as a result people don't sympathise with teachers. Most people just think teachers get a lot of holidays but the stress rates amongst teachers are at their highest point for many years. So many teachers are leaving the profession due to low morale, stress and poor wages.
Out of 50 lessons per fortnight, teachers only get five where they are not teaching. Even during those, they may have to take cover lessons. Mainly those five non-contact lessons are used to plan lessons and mark work. People say that teaching is just lots of holidays, but actually teachers work more hours than most professions. Most people work nine to five, which is a 40 hour week. Teachers often work from 7:30am to as late as 8 in the evening; that’s over 12 hours day. This means over a 60 hour week. Teachers supposedly get 13 weeks off a year. However, a lot of this holiday is spent preparing for future lessons. Additionally, teachers who usually work a 60+ hour week, work 2,340 hours a year. In comparison, someone with a nine to five job with five weeks’ annual holiday, would work 1,880 hours a year. To conclude, teaching is very time consuming and taxing job which should have a higher pay.
By Rachel & Flora
Images Sourced from Getty Images