It is safe to say that there is an impending crisis in teacher numbers; it is likely to get worse. Recruitment targets have either been missed or just about hit depending upon whose version of events you believe. But more worryingly 30% of teachers are leaving within the first five years. The government’s response is to say that there are more teachers than ever in schools; this may be true but it is a little bit like saying that I have more carpet than ever in my new house but neglecting to mention that I have built several extra rooms. The key issue is whether we have enough teachers for the students in front of us. This 3 part series will look at what is going wrong and what we can do about it.
Part 1 money –
One of the common lines that you hear in discussions about teaching is that teachers are not motivated by money. Whilst I believe that this is generally true the fact remains that all teachers and people in other jobs for that matter have bills to pay. As pay in education declines in real terms,It is becoming harder particularly for younger teachers to pay those bills.
Disclaimer: I am not necessarily saying that teachers have it harder than anyone else currently. The focus is on teachers as we are asking why we don’t have enough.
1. Since 2010 as a result of austerity measures teachers have had either a pay freeze or a 1% pay rise each year which is under inflation and we are told that this will remain in place until 2020. It is estimated that in real terms a teachers salary is now at last 15% less than it was in 2010. In terms of graduate occupations teaching is now at the lower end of the table.
2. There is now no guarantee of pay progression. A teacher starting salary of £24,000 per year the piece below the average UK salary and there is no guarantee that they will progress up the scale. As a younger teacher I weathered my early years realising that if I hung in there, in a few years time I would be better off. There are now no guarantees.
3. Linked to this is the pressure on school budgets. School spending has been cut per pupil and will continue to be squeezed. Even the best headteachers having their budget squeezed year-on-year may find it difficult to do the right thing and allow pay progression where it is deserved.
This is not particularly a personal argument. I’m relatively fortunate and I’m paid reasonably well for what I do. Yet even I cannot help noticing that we have needed my extra income as an examiner to ensure that we get the family holiday on a couple of occasions and to pay for the roof to be fixed when it started to leak!
Although my examining is seasonal I am well aware that some teachers do you have regular second jobs. I know of one young teacher who was working several nights behind a bar to make ends meet. As a parent you have to ask yourself whether that is what you want for your children’s teachers. How effective will they be in teaching your son or daughter?
I’m sure that for most teachers it genuinely isn’t about the money but if people are working 60 hours per week and they struggle to see the possibility of owning their own home or being able to provide for their own family it may be that they decide to pursue other options.
Next time the bigger issue – workload