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NAHT comment on EPI report into teacher workload

report released today (Monday) by the Education Policy Institute reveals that teachers in England are working longer hours than in most other countries and yet receive a starting pay 16% lower than the average. Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders union NAHT, commented:

“This report shows just how much damage is being done to the teaching profession. Faced with long working hours, unmanageable workloads, weak training and low starting salaries, why would graduates choose to enter teaching? The government must wake up to this reality and make the changes necessary to ensure a workforce that can deliver the best education for all. It's not rocket science: pay people properly and treat them well. 

“We welcomed the workload review groups the government set up last year and have promoted their recommendations. However, the government must accept responsibility for the major role it has to play in teacher workload. Individual schools can do nothing about the timing or the content of government reforms or the weight of accountability. Too often teachers are collateral damage in rushed and chaotic reforms. 

“That England ranks so low in the time teachers are given for CPD is a real worry. We particularly need development opportunities that encourage teachers to feel confident in stepping up to leadership in the future. School leadership is a hugely rewarding job that allows teachers the chance to make real change in their communities, raise standards and improve children’s life chances. But, as things stand, just a third of the middle leaders we surveyed earlier this year had any aspiration to become head teachers. That will not give us the number of heads we need. Workload, risk and the culture of blame that surrounds school leadership make for a toxic fog that must be dispelled.

“In a high stakes system, the government has two choices: to ensure the right incentives are in place so people take on career risks, or address the high stakes accountability system itself. Unfortunately the government has chosen to do neither. We know that teachers’ pay is not keeping pace with other graduate professions, with a significant impact on recruitment and retention. We also know that they are treated poorly. The government must recognise that, unless they end their policy of real terms pay cuts and create better working conditions, the profession will struggle to attract the best and brightest.”

First published 11 January 2018