Working conditions for teachers must improve, NFER report shows

A new NFER report shows that, in order to stem the exodus of teachers leaving the profession, working conditions for them must improve – and soon

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has released its latest Teacher labour market in England report 2019, and it shows that working conditions must improve for teachers to stop them from leaving the profession.

The report shows that 20% of teachers feel stressed about their job most or all of the time, with 41% dissatisfied with the amount of leisure time they have.

The NFER also found that, while teachers spend a similar time working than other professions, they do so over a shorter amount of time, meaning they work more intensively and suffer higher levels of stress.

As reported by Personnel Today, Jack Worth, co-author of the report, said: “England’s schools are facing significant challenges in recruiting and retaining sufficient numbers of teachers.

“Nurturing, supporting and valuing teachers is vital to making teaching an attractive and rewarding career choice. In order to do this, there is a clear need to improve the working conditions of teachers, with a focus on making the teaching career more manageable and sustainable.”

Commenting on the report, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“The NFER has made a welcome intervention in the ongoing crisis over teacher recruitment and retention. Today’s report echoes our own long-standing concerns about the anxieties faced by teachers.

“Workload is unsurprisingly at the heart of the matter. This is why the NEU has put pressure so consistently on Department for Education, to attack at root the very factors which create such an unnecessary burden.

“Teachers typically work well in excess of 50 hours per week, as demonstrated by survey upon survey. Primary teachers new to the profession are working nearly 19 hours per week outside of normal school hours.

“A great deal of these excess hours are consumed by accountability measures – pointless box-ticking activities – which may satisfy Ofsted and the DfE, but have precious little impact on the children teachers teach.

“The reasons that so many leave the profession so quickly are not a mystery to us. When faced with impossible workloads, endless accountability, a testing culture run riot, and flat or underfunded pay deals year after year, it is all too common for good teachers to leave the profession.

“The solutions are really not so complicated, and have been obvious to anyone on the frontline for years. Address pay and workload and we will see increases in applications to teacher training for subjects that have long had shortfalls.

“Address excessive accountability and we will see teachers stay in the profession and thrive, returned to first principles and the vocation they love.

“Damian Hinds has made some gestures towards tackling these abiding problems, which we have welcomed, but the NFER’s report is a sharp reminder that the situation needs to improve fast.”

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