Teachers are being forced to work second jobs in order to “keep eating” and pay for essentials during the cost of living crisis, with one in 10 believed to have taken on another role alongside teaching.
Tens of thousands of teachers at schools in England and Wales are voting for the first time in a decade on whether to go on strike, with the government’s offer of a 5 per cent pay rise for most educators falling well below unions’ demands of 12 per cent.
At one school in Kent, teachers are now also working as farm hands, bartenders and dancing in a Greek restaurant, according to Garry Ratcliffe, the chief executive of the Galaxy Trust, which runs four primary schools in the southeastern county.
These second jobs are not to fund holidays or optional expenses, but “to keep eating”, Mr Ratcliffe told The Observer, adding that an emergency free food cupboard installed in the staff room at the same school “has to be refilled every day”.
“They are worrying about money, there is a greater reliance on public transport as some can’t afford to run their cars. This is about working to survive, not working to thrive,” he said.
The NASUWT teachers’ union has found that one in 10 of its members are working a second or even third job – and has previously warned that 89 per cent of teachers polled were worried about their financial situation.
Consequently, the union warned in April that 73 per cent had considered leaving their job in the 12 months prior, with nearly half doing so as they were “disillusioned” by their pay.
These findings will be echoed in a survey due to be published on Tuesday by the charity Education Support, which will show that a majority of teachers have been seeking to leave their job, with stress at crisis proportions, according to The Observer.
It comes amid a wave of industrial action across the public sector. On Thursday, teachers in Scotland went on strike for the first time in nearly 40 years, over a wages dispute – with further action planned for 7 and 8 December.
In England and Wales, voting on industrial action began in October, with the ballot set to close in January – despite the government’s offer of a 5 per cent pay rise for most teachers, rising to an 8.9 per cent increase for starting salaries outside London.
The NASUWT union, which is ballotting its 162,000 members in England and Wales for the first time since 2011, warns that teachers have seen real-terms pay cuts of more than 20 per cent since 2010 – meaning that a typical teacher has lost £50,000.
University staff also held what were billed as their largest-ever strikes this month, with nurses also set to stage their first-ever UK-wide strike in the weeks ahead, joining transport and postal workers on the picket lines.
However, government minister Mark Harper warned on Sunday that there “simply isn’t the money” to meet the demands of public sector workers, telling Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “Inflation-matching or inflation-busting pay rises are unaffordable.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Education told The Observer that the government had “confirmed the highest pay awards for a generation” this year, including a rise of 8.9 per cent for new teachers.
She added: “We understand the pressures many teachers, like the rest of society, are facing at the moment due to the challenge of high inflation.”
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies