With the recent announcement of more strikes to come on the 5th and 7th July and with no end in sight, it is crucial to explore the core issues surrounding teacher strikes and understand the real motivations behind them.
The strikes often ignite heated debates. Through conversations with numerous teachers and ex-teachers I know, I have garnered some opinions on the true motivations behind the strikes, and what teachers really want.
Passion over monetary gain:
Most teachers enter the profession driven by their passion for education rather than monetary incentives. At its core, teaching is a vocation where individuals are motivated by the desire to make a positive impact on the lives of their students.
Seeking more than money:
Interestingly, in my interactions, I have not encountered a single teacher who left the classroom solely to pursue higher earnings. Financial considerations often take a backseat to other factors when teachers contemplate their career choices. Despite this, messaging from the media and unions primarily focuses and pushes the dispute about teacher pay. Higher compensation will obviously help retention but doesn’t address the heart of the issue.
The dilemma of competitive salaries:
A crucial factor that prevents teachers from leaving the profession is the relative financial security it provides. Compared to the average UK salary, which sits at around £26k, classroom teachers earn significantly more at an average of £39k. This disparity suggests that teaching is already relatively well paid. However, the perceived lack of adequate compensation stems from the heavy workload and high expectations placed upon teachers.
The real desires of teachers:
Beyond financial compensation, what teachers truly seek is more time and support. If the job of a teacher were primarily focused on teaching, planning, and marking, it would have a transformative effect. Personal experiences I’ve drawn from indicate that the quality of life for teachers significantly improves when they have the time and capacity to attend to the essential aspects of their profession, without having to take that work home with them.
Prioritising time and support:
Instead of solely concentrating on increasing wages, we should redirect attention towards providing teachers with more time, resources, and support. Investing in hiring additional support staff, thereby reducing their overwhelming administrative and non-teaching responsibilities, could prove instrumental in alleviating the burden on educators. Reprographics, logistics, pastoral care, parent liaison, and room setups, among other tasks, can be delegated to support staff, allowing teachers to focus primarily on instruction and student development.
It is crucial to recognise the potential drawbacks of raising wages without addressing underlying issues. Higher salaries could strain school funding, leading to a decrease in support staff and an increase in stress and workload for teachers. Such conditions would inevitably result in more teachers leaving the profession long term and placing further strain on remaining staff. Consequently, schools would face additional costs related to recruitment, covering sick leave, and providing training. This perpetuates a cycle that remains unaddressed.
By shifting the focus from wage increases to addressing time constraints and providing adequate support, we can transform the teaching profession. Teachers deserve an environment that allows them to dedicate themselves fully to their core responsibilities, leading to improved job satisfaction, enhanced well-being, and ultimately, better outcomes for students.
Why are you striking? Let us know in the comments section below.
This article was written by the TeacherHaven team, help us support education by contributing to our blog, email us at email@example.com