England’s teachers are now working as long hours as bankers, but without the banker pay
The new secretary of state for education, Gavin Williamson, knows a lot about the heavy workloads piled on teachers. His wife used to teach in a primary school. Then she left the profession to become a teaching assistant partly because, he said this month, “there was always a big challenge in terms of workload, and this is one of the things we need to address”.
Indeed. More than personal experience, hard figures back up the cabinet minister’s worry. A new report from the UCL Institute of Education finds that one in four teachers in England work over 60 hours a week. It is standard for teachers to work into the evening and around one in 10 does weekends, too. These are approaching investment banker hours – without, needless to say, anything like investment banker pay: a newly qualified teacher outside the M25 can expect to start on £23,720. No other school system in the industrial world gouges so many hours out of its staff. Finland boasts what is commonly called the best education system on the planet, yet its average teacher clocks up 34 hours a week, while their counterpart in England does 49 hours. The consequences of all this pressure, say the trade unions, are stark and devastating. The National Education Union reports that one in three newly qualified teachers in English classrooms quit within five years, leading to fewer older teachers sticking around and thus to students being deprived of knowhow.
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