Teachers work longer hours than police officers and nurses, study suggests

And teachers' average hourly pay has dropped the most out of the three professions over the years, research shows

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Tuesday 20 March 2018 01:09 GMT
Teachers work longer hours than nurses and police officers during term-time, study says
Teachers work longer hours than nurses and police officers during term-time, study says

Teachers work longer hours - and have seen a sharper drop in pay - than police officers and nurses, a new study suggests.

And teachers are the least satisfied out of the three professions with the amount of leisure time they have, the research says.

The findings come amid concerns about teacher workload and staff shortages. This month, the Education Secretary Damian Hinds pledged to cut teacher workload to improve staff retention.

The study, by the National Foundation for Educational Research, shows that teachers worked 50 hours a week during term time in 2015/16, compared with 44 for police officers and 39 for nurses.

Taking into account school holidays - and how much teachers may work during these breaks - teachers and police staff work a comparable number of hours annually.

“Teacher working hours have been increasing since 2009/10, while police working hours have decreased slightly over the same period, though neither difference is statistically significant,” it says.

“We also show that the long hours that teachers work during term time substantially exceeds the amount of extra holiday time they may receive.”

The study notes that all public sector workers have faced a pay freeze or a cap on wage increases since 2010, which has eroded real-terms pay for all three professions.

It says that in 2015/16, police officers had the highest annual average earnings, followed by teachers and then nurses.

But it calculates that taking into account average hours worked each year, teachers have an average hourly pay rate of £17.70 - about the same rate as nurses, but lower than police officers' real average hourly pay, which stands at £18.80.

The study also estimates that teachers' real average hourly pay has dropped by about 15 per cent since 2009/10, while for nurses it has dropped by about 4 per cent, and for police officers about 11 per cent.

The findings do show that 78 per cent of full-time teachers said they were satisfied with their jobs in 2015/16, lower than satisfaction rates among nurses, but higher than among police officers.

And 79 per cent of full-time teachers were happy with their income levels, a higher proportion than nurses and police officers.

But fewer than half (47 per cent) of teachers said they were satisfied with the amount of leisure time they had, the lowest proportion of the three professions.

Carole Willis, NFER chief executive, said: “This is an important piece of research to gain insight into whether the difficulties faced in recruitment and retention are unique to teaching or common to other professions in the public sector.

”Our analysis shows that long working hours is one of the main barriers to improving teacher retention, an issue that is consistent with our previous reports in this series, and that working hours have been increasing over the last five years.

“Therefore, we recommend that further work to reduce the working hours of teachers should be a priority for school leaders and the Government.”

Earlier this month, Education Secretary Damian Hinds pledged to cut teachers' hours and workload in a bid to tackle staff shortages in schools.

In his first major speech, he promised school leaders that the Government would “strip away” pointless tasks to allow teachers to “focus on what actually matters”.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “This research provides further evidence that many teachers are overloaded and underpaid.

”It shows that a large proportion are unhappy with the amount of leisure time left to them and that their average hourly pay has plummeted in real terms since 2010.

“Unsurprisingly, we are failing to attract enough teachers into the profession and then losing too many early in their careers."

He added: ”Teaching has always been a demanding job, but relentless Government reforms, underfunding and ever-increasing expectations on schools have driven up workload to an intolerable degree.

“The Government - alongside Ofsted and ASCL - has committed to reducing that burden and we must now turn those words into reality."

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: “This report confirms what we already know. Teacher workload is unbearably high, it is driving the teacher recruitment crisis and leading to unnecessary stress and in many cases an unacceptable work-life balance.

“Teachers are used to spending time outside of school preparing exciting lessons, but are now spending unbearably long hours on tasks to satisfy the Government’s obsession with data collection. This is driving many to despair.”

With additional reporting from PA

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