Who wouldn’t want a 20% pay rise?

Since I started teaching part-time, my Friday mornings have begun to look remarkably different. Rather than waking up at 5:30am as I do during the rest of the week, I roll out of bed at a leisurely hour and often start my day with a yoga class. After enjoying the luxury of breakfast at my kitchen table instead of a classroom desk, I spend the rest of the day planning my year 10 lessons for the following week. Occasionally, I treat myself by popping out to the post office or the bank. More often than not, I’m sending emails trying to secure writing commissions – now I am teaching part-time, I need to find other ways to top up my income.

This probably sounds appealing to most teachers, who have usually spent most of their Friday dreading that year 9 double lesson after lunch. And there’s no doubt that teaching part-time has kept me in the classroom; I was very close to becoming one of the 31% of teachers who leave the profession within their first five years of qualifying.

But there are two glaring issues with the Friday I have just described: first, I am still continuing to do school work even on my day off; and second, I’ve had to take a cut in my salary and seek out additional work to make up the difference.

You do less work and you get paid less. Hmm, shocker, eh?

Rather than the option of working part-time being available only to those who can afford it, what if all teachers everywhere were able to work a four-day week, and crucially, without a loss in pay?

Sounds good to me too. When are you going to start paying me five days’ pay for four days’ work?

55 thoughts on “Who wouldn’t want a 20% pay rise?”

  1. “Some parents and teachers may understandably be concerned that a shorter school week could have a negative impact on young people’s academic performance.”

    All parents, All taxpayers, few teachers. Their interests are not aligned on this.

    I think if Jeremy announces this at conference he should announce it in a Barry white voice: This one’s for the all the lovely teachers out there.

  2. I think it’s going to be a lot longer coming than the 5 day week because there’s a big difference between 1 to 2 days vs 2 to 3 days.

    Given a choice I’d rather have 5 day weeks and a lot more weeks off

  3. A 4 day week and all the holidays –just for indoctrinating the nations youth in cultural Marxist cockrot.

    Sack all known leftists/agitators. Impose an anti-left curricidink and have “sprites” (kids with paid for Liberty home-schooling by Ron Paul/Tom Woods empowered to contradict leftist teach) in every classroom. Anti-CM lessons including debunking eco-freakery. Get rid of the stuck until 18 bullshit which is just to avoid youth unemployment figures. Free to leave school at 14 or even down to 12 if you can show you have a legit job to go to–helping in the family business say.

    Willingly put that lot through Teachers and help to rescue the next generation from socialist lies and evil and we’ll talk about 4 day weeks etc.

    Oh BTW–no more female teachers recruited until the balance between the sexes is 50-50 at least.

  4. I thought this was potential general Labour policy for all workers, the 4 day week at the same money? J-MCD announced a review recently?

  5. There are downsides to being a teacher or lecturer, but there are few compared to many other jobs. So let’s be fair about it, and consider what the downsides are..

    You’ll probably never be a good skier if you weren’t already as a kid, because Christmas-New Year is too early for good snow, and Easter is a bit too late. Tough that, ain’t it?

    You have to take your holidays at peak times when people with kids at school have to, so you have to pay top dollar. Again, tough. Why not fine teachers who take holidays in term-time?

    Your employer is likely to be a shit, and won’t reward you for being any good. The upside is that you won’t get any stick for being crap.

    There’s plenty of fully-paid maternity leave for your female colleagues, but never for you if you are male (or otherwise childless).

    By God, they have it hard, don’t they?

  6. Hey, remember the days when your child missing one day of school was catastrophic? Well, yes, but that was before everyone discovered the vast benefit (to teachers) of working only four days a week. Now everyone knows that missing a day of school per week has no negative impact on a child’s education; in fact it improves it!

    So naturally the next step is to improve it even more with a three day working week for teachers.

    P.S. sceptical about her claim that she has to wake up at 5.30am on a working day, unless she has a long, long commute.

  7. If school weeks were four days, particularly at primary school, parents would face some enormous childcare costs (unless they had a three day weekend too). It would work out as a massive pay cut.

    I am sympathetic to the idea that more teachers should try working 0.6 or 0.8 if they’re finding the stress is getting to them, but it can cause communication difficulties (eg you might share a class with someone but you’re only both in on Wednesdays to catch up with each other; two teachers on 0.5 may simply not see each other at all!) and you have to accept certain events like departmental meetings or open days or parent evenings might still drag you in on days you’re timetabled to be off.

  8. The reform that is desperately needed is to align teachers with parents’ and kids’ interests. Paying teachers more en masse will be a massive injection of funds with small returns. You need payment by results. Yes a base payment that reflects keeping an eye on the kids for their parents, child care rates in other words. And then a variable payment for how much you have advanced that child’s learning and skills set. Easier said than done. Maybe so but first step is to accept that’s the way it should go. (and teacher by and large don’t) The trickiest thing is to get a policy like that through without massive strikes disrupting a whole cohorts education. You may or maynot believe the policy works but everyone will agree that a strike harms the kids’ education. So the teachers and their unions have the the political parties by the ovaries.

  9. ‘The article is captioned, apparently unironically, “teacher shortages”.’

    The main teacher shortage appears to be that teachers are short of intellect.

  10. Actually, I think I can propose a method for giving teachers at least Friday afternoon off. Classes on Saturday mornings.

  11. @HB

    Payment by results is tricky practically not just politically. Hard to track kids’ progress over time unless you keep examining them constantly, which actually has its own educational disadvantages, and you have various complications over how to baseline stuff (don’t want teachers in a lousy area to earn less – if anything you need to incentivise better teachers to go into them – if teachers in plush areas get wonderful results because nice well brought up kids are working hard and having private tutors). Plus the complication of high turnover schools where lots of kids come in only for part of the year (common in places with high immigration but also in social service “dumping” towns).

  12. Teachers are entitled and ignorant. Mr brother being one and a case in point.

    In a discussion on pensions he denied my claim that teachers’ pensions were an unfunded scheme

    “no it isn’t, I pay into it”.

    Maths teacher. And a self-described ‘armchair Marxist’

  13. “Put that lot through Teachers and help to rescue the next generation from socialist lies”

    But, Mr Ecks, lots of teachers ARE “known leftists/agitators”! The rot was already setting in when i wuz at skool in the 70’s – gawd knows what it’s like now…

  14. > I’ve had to take a cut in my salary and seek out additional work to make up the difference

    Let me guess, extra curricular teaching for the children of the despised wealthy middle class????

  15. Witchie said:
    “Your employer is likely to be a shit, and won’t reward you for being any good. The upside is that you won’t get any stick for being crap.”

    Yup. This is why I have up lecturing full-time and now only do it on a small part-time basis. But unlike the teacher Tim quotes, I don’t complain that I only get the relevant fraction of the pay.

  16. Rob said:
    “sceptical about her claim that she has to wake up at 5.30am on a working day”

    Probably down to how she plans her time. If she’s doing her prep for the day’s lessons in the morning, rather than the afternoon before (after finishing at, what, 3:30?) or in the long school holidays (which are not meant to be staff holidays for the full length), then she’d have to be up early in the morning to get ready.

    Fair enough; if she’d rather finish early in the afternoon and have longer breaks in the school holidays. But don’t whinge about it.

  17. Witchie “You’ll probably never be a good skier if you weren’t already as a kid, because Christmas-New Year is too early for good snow, and Easter is a bit too late. Tough that, ain’t it?”

    There’s always taking the school skiing trip. That always appeared to be one of the biggest perks of the job for a handful of teachers at my school. That, and the months’ of holidays every year.

  18. Most teachers like teaching, I think. It’s what attracts them to the profession. What puts them off is all the paperwork.

    There’s marking homework, writing lesson plans, doing assessments, writing action plans for failing students, recording grades, recording attendance, following up poor attendance, filling out student bahaviour logs, emailing parents, answering concerned/angry parents’ emails, inventorying class supplies and textbooks, keeping up to date on curriculum changes, keeping track of school policy changes, procuring materials for lessons, doing research/revision, running detentions, running after-school clubs, organising big events like sports days and school plays, dealing with the OFSTED inspectors, mandatory training for health and safety, and then all the individual payroll/HR/tax/legal crap that any employee has to go through.

    Consider marking the homework of thirty students. If it takes fifteen minutes per student (which is not a lot, really, to read, correct, mark, and record an essay), it will take seven and a half hours to do all thirty. That’s like an extra day’s work a week on its own.

    Most people think the job is sitting down in a room with a bunch of kids and teaching them stuff, and it has short hours and long holidays. For those who like working with children, it sounds attractive. About a third of those who qualify for the job give it up within five years, when they find out what it’s really like.

    But really, the complaint being made above is a market-based one. If you’ve got a shortage of teachers, you have to pay them more. That’s the law of supply and demand.

    They’ve got a problem in that the perception of the job is that it is easier and more pleasant than it actually is, so they get lots of people thinking it’s good money, applying, getting expensive training, and then almost immediately dropping out. Those in the job are mostly young and inexperienced, resentful, stressed, and moaning like hell that they’re underpaid for the amount of work they’re doing. And they’re doing the right thing when they discover they’re being underpaid, which is to quit and go find another career that pays better.

    So what do you do about it? You’ve got a shortage of supply to meet the demand for teachers. What does economics tell you you need to do?

  19. So what do you do about it? You’ve got a shortage of supply to meet the demand for teachers. What does economics tell you you need to do?

    Import a bunch of trained teachers from South East Asia?

  20. @AndyC

    “no it isn’t, I pay into it”

    Genuine lol!

    Do think it helps if teachers have had other careers first rather than using it as a “starter career”.

    Partly for the real world acclimatisation. Management is often crap, the people your work is supposed to benefit don’t always appreciate it, work can be hard. But also so they can say something meaningful about “this is how you can go out and use what you’re learning today in your career to come”.

    Not entirely unrelated aside – I hate those cute stories saying “look how this homeless drug addict / dealer / street thug turned his life around and now goes around educating vulnerable people about their experience and how it’s possible to turn their lives around and even get a professional career” when that professional career is being a drugs education officer or working with young offenders. Not that I mind those careers existing, challenging work that it is (tough crowd!) but they can’t *all* become youth workers. (Or autobiographical performance poets, we get a few of those “how I turned my life around” stories too – and of course the performances they’re actually paid for will generally be youth outreach by local authorities etc). I would be rather gladder to see stories about “how I turned my life around and got a job in telesales / at a fast-food restaurant / as a care assistant / running my own barbershop”…. Cos if the majority of them are going to get out of their current lives and get a job, most of them are going to have to be in a more regular kind of gig.

  21. Also people who have had “real” jobs before might be better at figuring out what’s the crap they genuinely have to put up with and get on top of, versus what’s the crap (particularly coming from management) that’s just make-work and can be safely ignored. Might also be spared the disease of over-conscientiousness (fifteen minutes per essay isn’t sustainable ergo isn’t going to happen and I shouldn’t feel guilty that I’m not going to do it) and have a better idea of how to prioritise what’s important as they sort out an efficient working schedule.

    Having said all that, management at some schools do seem oddly determined to make their employees’ life hard, and the kids are not going to give an easy time either.

  22. http://www.desertsun.co.uk/blog/5924/

    This was an interesting thread on Tim N’s blog about whether British teachers really might be working seventy hour weeks, which would be a big incentive to go part-time… While I am sceptical about it being true on average, there are certainly some teachers who do, whether it is by poor management, poor planning on their part, being too early in their career to be able to deflect the crap (you may get more latitude as you gain experience, and build up a bigger bank of resources to use in planning) or the over-conscientiousness bug.

  23. Consider marking the homework of thirty students.

    I always considered homework an utter waste of time; better to keep the kids in longer and have them work through problems in the class. Boarding school prep was a good idea though, mainly because the children had nothing better to do than work and the teachers little better to do than mark it.

  24. This was an interesting thread on Tim N’s blog about whether British teachers really might be working seventy hour weeks

    Heh, I was just thinking about that. It seems to me a lot of the problem is teachers get no help with things like standard, pre-made lesson plans which would vastly reduce their workload. Instead they seem to spend a lot of time reinventing the wheel. One would have thought the Unions would have knocked up some useful tools to help their members, but I guess they’re too busy protesting Israel’s existence.

  25. A good mate of mine out here teaches maths and economics at an international high school and is known for getting kids into Ivy League universities. He certainly doesn’t do a half arsed job. No way he does 70 hrs per week because he’s always out on the piss with me. Could it be something about the British system that increases the teachers’ workload? Also he’s a proper libertarian not a moaning commie which might help.

  26. Reinventing the wheel keeps literally millions in work. Why would the unions, or anyone else for that matter, want to put a stop to it?

  27. P.S. sceptical about her claim that she has to wake up at 5.30am on a working day, unless she has a long, long commute

    I get up at 5:45 on a working day and my commute is 35 minutes in the absence of serious traffic holdups. But, if I got up at 6:30 and commuted in, it would be in excess of an hour.

    But then I can start work at minutes past 7 am and get quite a lot done before the rest of the rabble troop in.

  28. “It seems to me a lot of the problem is teachers get no help with things like standard, pre-made lesson plans which would vastly reduce their workload. Instead they seem to spend a lot of time reinventing the wheel. One would have thought the Unions would have knocked up some useful tools to help their members, but I guess they’re too busy protesting Israel’s existence.”

    My old biology teacher (private school in the 80s) must have sorted all his class notes and worksheets etc when he first started teaching years previously (in the 60s I think) and just handed out photocopied sheets all the time to each new set he took on. The copies were so old that some had obviously been mimeographed at some point prior to photocopiers. We could read it, just!

  29. It seems to me a lot of the problem is teachers get no help with things like standard, pre-made lesson plans which would vastly reduce their workload.

    Yeah, and if I had tax returns completed by the IRS to charge my customers for, I’d have a reduced workload myself.

    Teachers: Stop whining and do your fucking job. If it’s to much for you, then go find something else to do.

  30. NiV said:
    “Most teachers like teaching, I think”

    I’m not sure that’s true. They like the didactic part of teaching – lecturing, demonstrating – what used to be the blackboard stuff when we still had blackboards – the parts that are just the wise man dispensing knowledge.

    But many (most?) teachers don’t like the difficult bits that are still pure teaching – helping pupils who are struggling with particular things, identifying which ones are struggling, all that side of it. Some do, and they tend to be the really good ones, but a lot don’t.

    And that’s just the bits that are still unambiguously teaching, without even getting into the necessary adjuncts such as marking and dealing with problem children.

    I see this in university teaching – almost all like lecturing, but a large proportion (possibly a majority) don’t really like seminars. And from what I’ve seen of teachers (my own and my children’s), something similar seems true in schools.

  31. Having said all that, management at some schools do seem oddly determined to make their employees’ life hard

    Vote for/agitate for/demand a monopsony, and be astonished when your (effectively) single employer pays you shit money and treats you like shit too if they happen to be a psychopath.

    Clever folks, these teachers.

  32. @DJ

    “He certainly doesn’t do a half arsed job. No way he does 70 hrs per week”

    Is he new to teaching or has he had a few years to get all his material in order?

  33. “But there are two glaring issues with the Friday I have just described: first, I am still continuing to do school work even on my day off;”

    You’re on salary dear. That was your choice. Your job doesn’t end when the school bell rings, it ends when its done. You could have chosen to stay late ‘in the office’ and done that work then. You could have done it in the breaks. You could have done it while the students were taking a test. But in the end you get paid for the job, not the amount of time it takes you to do it.

    Why does every teacher in these things talk about how much time they spend ‘making lesson plans’? I taught in the military – once your lesson plan is made its just minor adjustments. Especially if you’ve been teaching the same subject to the same level of people for 5 years. That shit should be done by now. You’re teaching grade 10 – not a cutting edge course where the state-of-the-art changes rapidly.

  34. “what if all teachers everywhere were able to work a four-day week, and crucially, without a loss in pay?”

    What if all teachers just worked one half-day a year without a loss in pay?

  35. MyBurningEars: no performance pay is perfect though, the difference is most other industries they can tailor it to get to a point where its considerably better than nothing.

  36. British schools are notorious for demanding work from teachers that other school systems don’t do. Excessive (and useless) marking being the biggest.

    Small, short tests will tell if students are keeping up. If you mark homework, the lazy ones will just cheat anyway.

    I looked at teaching in Britain, and was horrified to see the work level many schools demand, (and I do lots of extra-curricula stuff which I’m not paid for). I did a stint at an international school instead.

    When teachers say they do it for the kids, ask how much unpaid tutoring, sport etc they do. Many do lots, because it’s more than a job. But many of the biggest whiners do none.

  37. Also, four day teaching weeks are a timetables nightmare.

    Teachers at 80% are fine, and quite common. But it’s not possible to schedule all a Secondary teacher’s classes to be free on one day. For Primary school it is merely terrible pedagogy to switch teachers all the time.

  38. “More often than not, I’m sending emails trying to secure writing commissions – now I am teaching part-time, I need to find other ways to top up my income”

    I wonder, do you really want a teaching career or is it a fill-in until you can be a full-time ‘writer’?

  39. MBE. He’s been doing it about 9 years I’d guess.

    He isn’t a teacher by training. He was a market analyst for some finance company in the US and his wife a teacher. She got this teaching job here and the school gave him a job too because of his degree. Now he loves teaching. Smartest bloke I know… he’ll hammer me at chess while simultaneously drinking a beer and marking homework.

  40. @DJ

    Interesting – good for him!

    @Aga

    “You’re teaching grade 10 – not a cutting edge course where the state-of-the-art changes rapidly.”

    Every couple of years the syllabus gets rewritten (and depending on your subject, that can mean *completely* rewritten) which buggers the planning up. See also the comments by Chester Draws.

  41. Lesson plans do have to be done over and over because you’re not teaching your own material, you’re teaching someone else’s, and it keeps changing.

    Homework is a crap idea because it favours children with quiet, book filled homes and supportive parents over children living in one room with mummy and a blaring TV. You’d think the left would be against such blatant classism.

  42. I suppose he has much smaller classes than a British school and probably much less admin to do.

    I dunno how long he’d last in some inner London sink comp.

  43. @RlJ
    As any teacher will confirm, the single greatest factor (discounting inherent ability) in determining educational outcomes isn’t public/private or comprehensive/selective – it’s whether there are parents (preferably two) who give a shit.

  44. Chris Miller,

    I compared the OFSTED scores for kids with the variation of final results and expected. If you send your kid to the worst school in town rather than the best, there’s a 5% variation. The other 95% of the variation in schools is down to the children and parents.

    US studies have shown roughly the same. The school makes almost no difference.

  45. With regard to workload I get the impression it’s massively increased over the last 30 years. I’m fairly sure my primary school teachers wheeled out the same lessons year after year. Nowadays the curriculum changes, the assessments change, the random data collection changes every 10 minutes.

  46. @andyc (and @myburningears) “no it isn’t, I pay into it”

    You probably think this is odd. It is actually entirely normal. I have had this discussion (I’m an ex teacher) on various forums countless times. “You don’t cover the cost of your pension” “Yes I do, I pay into it”.

    That’s it. If they were saying things like “I deserve it because it’s such a hard job” and stuff like that, well, it’s rubbish but it’s not stupid.

    They’re really really thick. One once presented me with this long (and to be fair accurate) calculation. Only three things were forgotten. Most teachers aren’t on the latest pension contributions. Teacher pensions can be transferred to spouse (partly) on death. And most importantly, teacher pensions are index linked.

    I worked out that on the new system (most are on the old one) if you remove the index linking bit it just about adds up. As long as you don’t get a promotion ; even a small promotion part way through blows the pension apart.

  47. @NiV “So what do you do about it? You’ve got a shortage of supply to meet the demand for teachers. What does economics tell you you need to do?”

    Well, what it doesn’t tell you is to pay all teachers the same salary which is what happens now (in reality your Physicist will get extra points if he starts looking for a promotion)

    True story (the teacher was me). When I left my first job I taught Computing to A-Level. At the same time, there was a vacancy in the English department. They had 40 applicants for the English job, one for mine. Who couldn’t do it (teach to A-Level). Same pay. Not complaining, because I knew that was how it worked. But the answer is not to “pay everyone more”.

    So what you do economically is pay the people you want more and the people who aren’t in demand less. Bear in mind several other factors ; local living costs for example, and it works both ways ; in boom times your salaries go down.

    I would add that teachers have been saying for as long as I can remember (about 35 years) that they work all the time. They don’t. Some do, but most don’t.

    The actual problems are behaviour and bureaucracy ; the former used to be Secondary only but now isn’t.

  48. “So what you do economically is pay the people you want more and the people who aren’t in demand less.”

    Agreed. 🙂

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