Mythbusting the school strikes: How much do teachers earn and … – The Telegraph

With counter claims on both sides, what does the data really show about working conditions in our classrooms?
When teachers go on strike, they have a history of not backing down. The Burston School Strike in Norfolk in 1914 was the longest in British history. 
They left the classroom and didn’t go back for 25 years, protesting at the unfair dismissal of a teacher. More than a hundred years on, the National Education Union is hoping the current industrial action will be much shorter and more successful – the Burston strike only officially ended when the teacher died. Their demands are more ambitious – a multi-billion pound pay package at a time the Government’s finances are seemingly drained. 
But what is it actually like to be a teacher and how do their salaries measure up to those in other industries?
On the surface, young people wanting to get into teaching have never had it better, especially when compared to other key workers. 
In 2010, a newly qualified nurse would earn around £400 less than a new teacher; today, that figure is closer to £1,000. Post-training police officers have gone from earning more than teachers, to earning almost £1,500 less. 
But these bolstered starter salaries have come at the same time pay for more experienced teachers has been slashed in real-terms. “It has been a deliberate policy choice to have smaller cuts for new and inexperienced teachers. In the 2019 general election, the Conservatives committed to increase teacher starting salaries to £30,000 [from £28,000 currently],” says Luke Sibieta, a research fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. “This was partly an effort to reduce the high levels of drop out early on in teachers’ careers.” 
To compare, for a nurse who progresses to an experienced Band 6 role, real-terms pay has fallen by around seven per cent in real-terms. A sergeant in the police has seen a cut of 11 per cent.
But for experienced teachers, the real-terms cut stands at 13 per cent.
Across the board, the average secondary teacher now earns £41,722, according to the Office for National Statistics.
This still places them comfortably above the national full-time employee pay of £33,000, but still a hefty £3,000 pay cut from a decade ago, once adjusted for inflation.
Teachers who have been in the job for around seven years start to feel the pinch.
“Teachers will say they are not particularly motivated by pay but statistically there is a relationship between pay and recruitment,” economist Paul Sellen from the Education Policy Institute told MPs before the pandemic.
“[It] is a very highly skilled profession, and a lot of those skills are very highly valued in many other industries, and at the moment particularly in Stem industries. So science and maths teachers particularly will have other options that are very lucrative, and it is perfectly reasonable for them to be looking elsewhere.”
And the crisis in keeping teachers, as opposed to just recruiting them, is stark.
Five years after qualifying, just two-thirds of teachers still work in the profession, down from three-quarters in the mid-noughties.
Today, the Government has offered those experienced teachers a pay increase half the level of inflation, whilst boasting new teachers will see their starting salary hit £30,000 by the end of the parliament.
Recent statistics from the Department for Education will sound warning bells about this ‘recruitment-first’ strategy. Just 71 per cent of their recruitment target was met, dropping to 50 per cent amongst science teachers.
The National Education Union has made this fact their rallying cry of the strikes – even in the area where the Government has targeted its resources, it’s failing.
The headline £30,000 pay offer? Even if delivered, inflation will have swallowed up all its benefits.
The Government’s workforce strategy also highlighted “unnecessary workload” – Whitehall-speak for the pushy parents, backlogs of marking, and behavioural issues draining teachers’ time outside of the classroom.
“Teachers generally are committed people who come into the profession because they want to make a difference”, educator Prof Dame Alison Peacock told the House of Commons’ Education Select Committee’s review into teacher retention.

“We all know the job is never finished: you never go home at the end of the day as a teacher and say, “I finished everything; marked every book; spoke to every child; phoned every parent I was going to talk to; and went to that meeting”. So, there is this sense within the profession that we know the job is kind of endless.”
A report by University College London found that during term time, teachers are working on average 50-hour plus weeks, rising to 60 hours amongst the most hard-pressed. This trend is not entirely new, with working hours of at least 45 hours recorded since the mid-1990s.
Astonishingly, they estimate that just 21 of these hours are directly dedicated to actual teaching. 
On top of them are six hours of marking, eight hours of lesson-planning, six hours of “management” and “administration”, as well as numerous hours speaking to parents and pupils.
But how do these stints of extreme overtime line up next to the hefty 13 weeks holiday teachers benefit from?
Even when accounting for holidays, the National Foundation for Educational Research found that teachers work 45-hours a week on average, broadly comparable with police officers and a little more than nurses; but unlike these two sectors, paid overtime is non-existent.
Covid raised a number of concerns about the country’s education system.
A lot of this was aimed at the Government – the chaos over exams, a lack of remote equipment, questionable lockdown decisions.
But there was sincere worry about an inability to access school education; lockdowns saw a 32 per cent reduction in daily teaching time amongst secondary pupils, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
And now students face a fourth consecutive year of serious disruption due to the teachers strike.
Just 51 per cent of people support the teachers, way below the 64 per cent support for nurses, according to YouGov.
And not even the teachers seem convinced; with a low turnout, just 48 per cent of union members actively backed the strike.
Despite this, teachers remain one of the country’s most respected occupations; 68 per cent of adults would be happy for their child to work in the sector, behind only Australia in international rankings.


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