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Teaching: one of the most undervalued careers in the United Kingdom

Updated on March 22, 2018

Teachers Aren't Appreciated by Parents

As I sat down to watch the rugby on a Sunday afternoon (and my wife sat down to yet another load of marking) it occurred to me just how undervalued teachers really are. There I am - feet up and beer in hand - and there she is busily working away when she should be relaxing. But there's the thing: teachers don't really get much time off. I know people will say "but they get so much holiday" but in reality that just isn't true. Not only have I witnessed this with my wife (a secondary school teacher) but also my mother-in-law (a primary school teacher for some 25+ years).

As I chose a category for this Hub, I originally was going to place it under 'Political and Social Issues'. It suddenly occurred to me that I couldn't possible use that category - education shouldn't be a political issue. That would make me as bad as the main political parties who continually use teaching and education as a political football. Here's one of the many problems with being a teacher: pressure from the Government. That will be discussed as this Hub develops.

Hopefully this will help to debunk some of the many myths surrounding the role of teaching and explain why teachers need those 6 weeks in the summer.

Myth 1: Teachers get too much holiday

No they don't. If you believe this then you know absolutely nothing about the profession. I'll explain:

Whilst it’s true that teachers get 6 weeks summer holiday, they do not spend 6 weeks of it drinking sangria beside a pool somewhere on the Costa Del Sol. For a start most teachers don’t earn anywhere near enough money to pay for such a holiday (especially when holiday companies inflate holidays due the school breaks).

There is the matter of getting a classroom ready for the next term. Many days often spent in the classroom, stripping out the previous year’s decoration of wall art and ensuring that the classroom is ready to go.

There is also the matter of lesson planning, making sure that the lessons for next term apply to the (constantly changing) curriculum.

Don’t forget the various meetings, especially relating to children with special needs.

Myth 2: Teachers finish work at 3pm

This is absolutely incorrect.

All of the teachers I know start work at around 8am and finish between 5-6pm. Although the students leave around 3pm there is still plenty of work for the teacher to do, such as:

  • Lesson planning - can take up to two hours a day
  • Marking - can take up to two hours a day
  • Meetings - usually around 30 minutes a day, on average
  • Courses (safeguarding, subject enhancement, etc)
  • Detentions
  • Duty
  • Phoning parents (yes, your little darling isn't as innocent as you think!)
  • Replying to parent and student emails
  • need I go on?

Myth 3: Teachers are highly paid

This depends on what you class as highly paid, but as I'll explain, the pay is actually pretty poor considering the number of hours that teachers have to put in (and spend training).

For 2014-15, Essex County Council paid a maximum of £32,187 per annum. As a teacher on main pay you can't earn any more than that, regardless of how qualified or experienced you are. The minimum pay is £22,023. A Learning Support Assistance (LSA) can expect £16,136.

Compare those salaries to some other jobs:

  • Member of Parliament (basic - before expenses): £67,060
  • Speaker of the House of Commons: £141,504 (and he gets a private residence all paid for)
  • GP: between £54,863 to £82,789
  • ICAEW Chartered Accountants: (average with 9 years experience) £85,900 (£71,600 salary + £14,300 bonus)

Still think that teachers are overpaid for what they do?

OFSTED inspections

Ah, OFSTED. The word that strikes fear into almost every teacher in the country.

For those who don't know, OFSTED inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people in the United Kingdom, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages. But for those who can expect to be inspected by OFSTED each year there's a lot more to the story.

Fact is, OFSTED can make or kill a school and in a roundabout way they can end a teachers career. Although Headteachers won't admit it, the fact is that most schools don't really give a genuine view to OFSTED inspectors. From checking on marking to checking on classroom teaching, the pressure that OFSTED adds to the job of teaching can sometimes make or break a teacher.

Teaching is a highly regulated career and it's getting more and more regulated by the year.

Parents don't support teachers with behavioural issues

Many parents want their children to do well and understand that supporting teachers is fundamental to bettering their child's eduction and behaviour.

Sadly, however, there are many parents who fail to support teachers and are quick to blame their child's behaviour on the teacher or defend their little darling as if the sun shines out of their anal cavity. Many teachers will have heard comments such as "well he doesn't behave badly at home" or "you're the teacher - you sort it out". There are just too many parents who treat teachers like glorified childminders.

There are also too many children who aren't taught good morals at home and know that teachers have very little in their punishment armoury to enforce good behaviour; an ongoing battle for teachers to ensure work and standards are kept up-to-date.

Constantly changing curriculum

New governments often result in a change of curriculum. New Ministers have new ideas - they want to put more pressure on schools and in turn this can result in a change of curriculum. This can result in lesson plans being changed or even thrown out of the window. Forget recycling on lesson plans for new yeargroups!

Pension targets changed

Since the "Age of austerity" commenced with the 2010 British Coalition, teachers have found their pensions under attack from the Conservative government. From April 2015 teachers will have to work longer for less. You can learn much more at: https://www.teacherspensions.co.uk/reform/members/reform-member-hub.aspx

Summary

If the Government are serious about education, they need to stop the culture of lambasting teachers at any opportunity.

My grandmother has a saying - "you pay peanuts, you get monkeys". If the government (and parents) continue to undervalue teaching staff they will only drive decent teachers away from the profession.

Do you think teachers are undervalued?

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