Tag Archives: teachers pay

Myths about Teaching

While writing my previous post, I  became incensed by the comments I read in response to Sir Wilshaws comments about teachers pay. And it got me thinking about what people think about teaching today. Everyone has an experience of school, but being a student gives you a very different perspective to that of a teacher. My OH regularly defended my profession to people who ‘joked’ about it being easy and all about watching videos, by saying he’s never seen anyone work so hard. He had no idea what teaching involved until we got together and he saw it for himself.

  1. Teaching is a 9 – 3 job. False. If a teacher is only working from 9 – 3, then within the first day, they’ll be behind. A teacher has to plan all their lessons every day. Depending on the number of classes they have (a teacher of English will have fewer classes than an RE teacher, but have to plan more lessons), the amount of time they spend doing certain tasks will vary. When teaching, not only to you have to stand in front of the class for 5 – 6 hours a day, you also have to plan each of these lessons. You then need to mark the work from each of these lessons. You’ll have to do 2 duties a week and organise the pastoral care of your tutor group. Throw in meetings before and after school, as well as training, parents evenings, open evenings and other possible events depending on your subject. I’d like to meet these teachers who only work 9 – 3 and ask them how they do it!
  2. Teachers get tons of holidays. True. But how many people do work during their holidays? Not many I’ll bet. Again, not every teacher will work during the holidays. Some might, some won’t. But in order to stay on top of everything, there are an awful lot of teachers who work during at least some of their holidays. The only time I didn’t work during my holidays was when I went abroad. As my OH wasn’t a teacher, we didn’t go abroad every holiday. So I would work during Christmas, Easter, at least one half term and half of the summer holidays. When I was Head of Department, I would go into school during the first week of the summer holidays to sort things out from the end of the school year & prepare for the new one, and then again at the end of the summer holidays for results day and getting things ready, like displays, organising books, getting to know the students who had specific learning needs etc.
  3. Teachers get a good deal with pay & pensions. Mmmmm…kind of. Teaching can pay very well, depending on your cost of living. In the last few years of my teaching career, the money I earned for being Head of Department (all £200 of it) went on my diesel. No joke. The pay I received for being head of department in no way reflected what was entailed in that job. And this is thing, teachers might get a decent amount of holidays but they do an awful lot outside of their contracted hours. Day trips, residential trips, buying things out of their own pocket, getting in early etc. If I calculate the number of hours I worked on average during term time, and not even factoring in working on the weekend, it boils down to earning just above minimum wage. Now I know not every teacher worked like I did, but something tells me that working as hard as I did for effectively minimum wage, means I wasn’t getting a good deal. I wish Wilshaw had brought up this idea of pay rises for hard workers when I was still there! Do teachers need decent pensions? Probably not, because the statistics of teachers dying early in retirement is shocking. Raise the retirement age even further, and they’ll be dropping in front of their white boards.
  4. Teaching is a job for life. False. When I started teaching back in 2002, I thought teaching was a secure profession to go into. Who had ever heard of teachers being made redundant? They’re essential right? True, to a point. Due to the ‘economic downturn’ or whatever you’d like to call it, times are very tough for schools. Even making schools academies isn’t the silver lining in the Tory Government cloud. It was only a few years ago when the school I worked in called for voluntary redundancies. This year, only a tiny handful of teachers will be replaced after a massive handful left. Teaching is not secure at all.

My Granny considered teaching to be a noble profession. But if you look at the comments on newspaper & TV websites when anything to do with teaching comes up, you’d think that teachers were the scum of the earth! And that they alone were the cause of everything that is wrong in the world.

I don’t understand at what point teachers became the root of all evil but I wish it would stop. Nothing in life is fair & I don’t think that lots of people who work hard in their various professions or fields get a good deal either. I don’t think its fair that sections of the Armed Forces or other public services are so underpaid or have rubbish pensions. The same way that I don’t think its fair for the Government to claw back money from those who are most vulnerable in our society because the wealthiest created a massive financial black hole. Sadly we live in a world that isn’t fair & there will always be people who think teachers have got it easy. They are wrong, obviously, because none of us who work hard & don’t see an equal financial return for that hard work, whatever it is, have got it easy. But hey ho, that’s just how it is.

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Teachers Pay

It’s been a while since Sir Michael Wilshaw said something to annoy the teaching community so his most recent comment was sure to stir things up. According to this report by BBC News, Wilshaw told the Times that teachers must work extra hours if they want a pay rise and teachers who were out of the door by 3pm shouldn’t be promoted. Staff who went the extra mile, should get promoted.

I agree.

Now I never thought that I would agree with anything Sir Wilshaw said but there are a lot of teachers who work incredibly hard who don’t get any recognition. When I was teaching, I worked a lot. For example, I worked 14 hour days & worked Sunday as standard. I was always looking for ways to improve my teaching & improve the learning experience for all my students. Nothing was too much work. Another teacher at the school didn’t work to the same level that I did. For example, they didn’t plan or mark regularly. However, due to them passing threshold at a previous school, they earned more than I did. How was that fair? It wasn’t. And it used to get to me big time.

If someone isn’t doing their job, why should their pay get increased? Why should they be considered for promotion? If they can’t complete the basic requirements of their jobs then they shouldn’t get paid the same as someone who goes the extra mile.

Now, all Wilshaw needs to do is put his money where his mouth is. There are plenty of teachers who do go the extra mile and my hope is that for those teachers, they can start to see some extra money in their pay packets. No one gets into teaching because of the pay, pension or holidays. They get into it because of their passion to help young people learn and improve their life chances.

It is an incredibly stressful job, not stressful like being on the frontline of the Armed Forces, but it is stressful. And it’s not easy. With the Government constantly moving the goalposts & with each new class bringing with it fresh challenges and needs, it is like being in a hamster wheel. Unlike teaching in the past, teaching is no longer a secure job. Schools up and down the country are making redundancies and teaching posts aren’t being filled due to lack of funding, causing some teachers to regularly teach outside their specialism. This only adds to the tension within schools. No one is saying that teachers should be above and beyond economics but they are doing a very difficult job. So many PGCE students start the school year with full to the brim with enthusiasm  Find those PGCE students 5 years into their teaching career & they are exhausted.

Just like every other profession, there are great teachers, mediocre teachers and awful teachers. It would be impossible to weed out the poor ones from every school but I think rewarding those who do a great job, as long as it’s not just based on performance, is about time.

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