17 October 2016
One in five female teachers say that their biggest career priority is to leave their current profession, according to a new survey shedding further light on the poor conditions in which Britain’s educators are expected to work.
The research, conducted by teaching union the NASUWT at its annual Women Teachers’ Consultation Conference, found that 55% of female educators are generally or very pessimistic about the future of their careers, and 21% have made it their priority to quit the sector altogether.
Women account for the majority of teachers in the UK, but 36% said they had experienced gender discrimination at the workplace in the last year; while 52% were angry about the recent degradation of their pay deals and 55% thought wages would only get worse.
However, the survey found the largest problems driving women out of teaching were the workload and highly stressful conditions at work.
Two thirds of female teachers said their psychological and physical health had taken a hit due to heavy workloads and three quarters said they found it impossible to strike a reasonable work/life balance.
Indeed, the NAWUWT’s research findings seem to confirm those of the Education Policy Institute, which recently published figures showing teachers in England work 19% longer than the OECD average, with many reporting stress linked to burnout and feeling underprepared as they lack the time to undertake training.
General Secretary of the NASUWT Chris Keates said women teachers were also facing additional stresses due to gender discrimination: “All of the evidence shows that the greater the managerial discretion the greater the potential for discrimination and this is borne out by the number of women reporting they have been refused pay progression because they have been on maternity leave or are working part time.”
“This inequality is being exacerbated by a raft of Government policies which have undermined equality protections for workers and left teachers at the mercy of unacceptable practices by employers,” he added.
He called on the government to “pause for thought about the urgency of the need to create a teaching profession which genuinely values and supports all women teachers”, warning that their neglect leads not only to the suffering of teachers, but is also “undermining the quality of education of children and young people”.