It might not come as a surprise to many teachers, but a study has revealed that they are working longer hours than nurses and police officers.

Also, the average hourly pay for teachers has fallen the most of the three professions in the last few years.

The findings from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) also highlight that teachers are, of the three professions examined, the least satisfied with the amount of leisure time to enjoy.

The study also reveals that teachers worked 50 hours a week during 2015/16 compared with police who worked 44 hours and nurses who worked 39 hours.

Researchers say that once school holidays have been taken into account, and how often teachers are probably working during these school breaks, then police and teachers are working on a similar number of hours every year.

Growing concerns about teacher shortages and workload

The findings are published amid growing concerns about teacher shortages and workload.

Indeed, the new Education Secretary Damian Hinds has already pledged to reduce teacher workloads in a bid to boost staff retention.

The NFER’s report states: “Working hours for teachers have increased since 2009 while working hours for police have slightly decreased over that period, though the difference is not statistically significant.

“The long hours teachers are working during term time exceeds the amount of holiday time they may receive.”

The researchers also highlight that the public sector pay freeze and the cap on wage increases have eroded pay in real terms for all three professions.

However, in 2015/16, the highest annual average earnings were enjoyed by police officers, followed by teachers and nurses.

Average hourly rate paid on an annual basis for a teacher is £17.70

The report also highlights that the average hourly rate paid on an annual basis for a teacher is £17.70, that’s the same rate nurses are paid but it’s lower than a police officer’s hourly pay which is £18.80.

Their findings reveal that the real average hourly pay for teachers has fallen by 15% since 2009, for nurses it fell by 4% and police officers saw an 11% drop.

The chief executive of NFER, Carole Willis, said: “The research offers an insight into the difficulties facing retention and recruitment and are not unique to teaching.

“Working long hours, our analysis reveals, is one of the barriers for improving teacher retention and it’s an issue that is consistent with previous reports and working hours have increased over the last five years.”

She called for urgent work to reduce the working hours of teachers.

‘Research offers evidence that many teachers are underpaid and overloaded’

The Association of School and College Leaders’ general secretary, Geoff Barton, said: “The research offers evidence that many teachers are underpaid and overloaded.

“It also shows that a large proportion are unhappy with the leisure time that’s left to them and their average hourly pay has dropped since 2010 in real terms.

“Unsurprisingly, we are not attracting enough teachers to the profession and then losing too many early in their teaching career.”

He added that teaching has never been less than a demanding job but there have been government reforms that led to growing expectations and underfunding which has pushed up a teacher’s workload to an ‘intolerable level’.

In a statement, the National Education Union says the research highlights the teacher workload is high and it is an issue driving the country’s teacher recruitment crisis and leading to an unacceptable work-life balance and unnecessary stress.


More information

The NFER report, ‘How Do Teachers Compare To Nurses And Police Officers?‘ is available from their website.