Teacher Numbers[1]

The number of teachers saw a growth from 2011 until 2016 when the number of teachers working in the profession levelled off. 2017 saw a slight drop in the number , while 2018 saw a small increase in Primary school teachers and a small drop in the number of Secondary school teachers (Figure 1). The government has invested a large part of its budget to training new teachers, but very little to the retention of current teachers.[2]

Figure 2 shows the increase in teachers entering the profession has been pretty much equally matched by those leaving the profession. This had resulted in a younger and less experienced profile for the workforce overall, with a marked decrease in the number of retirees making up a decreasing number of those leaving the profession.[3] In actual numbers 44,600 teachers entered the profession in 2018 (representing approx 9.8% of the overall number of teachers) while 42,100 left the profession.

Of the teachers who qualified in 2017, 84.7% are still in service one year after qualification. This retention rate is slightly lower than the previous year when the one-year retention rate was 85.1%. Of the teachers who qualified in 2013, 67.7% are still in service after 5 years. This is lower than the five-year retention rate seen in the previous year, when the figures was 68.5%. In general, retention rates have declined slightly in each year over the last 10 years.[4]

It is difficult to identify exactly what it costs the government to train a teacher as their are so many different training routes. The average seems to be on the £30,000 mark, with interestingly those costing the government the most being the least likely to remain in teaching after 5 years.[5] Based on the cost per new teacher, the government is spending approximately £1.3 billion a year of the education budget on teacher training and yet the number of teachers in the profession is not increasing.

Class Sizes

In 2010 there was 4,096,580 in Primary education and 3,278,485 in Secondary education. The number of pupils in Primary education has increased by 630,510 since and now stands at 4,727,090. The increase per year has slowed down significantly, but has not into decline as yet[1].

Since 2010 the average size of primary schools has increased by 43 pupils, the equivalent of more than 1.5 extra classes per school.[2]

The average size of Secondary schools since 2010 has increased more slowly than Primary schools, but is now starting to gain pace as pupils move from Primary to Secondary education. The increase between 2010 and 2019 was 49,485 pupils. The increase over the next five years will be .[3]

Pupils in Special schools has increased by 6500 since 2010

Average class sizes are rising as a result of teachers leaving the profession, cuts to education spending at the same time as a rise in pupil numbers. The Department for Education revealed that 8.4 per cent of all secondary school classes now have between 31 and 35 pupils, up from 7.7 per cent last year and considerably higher than the 5.6 per cent recorded in 2014. As the number of pupils entering secondary education will increase as many pupils move up from Primary schools this figure will take a sharp up turn over the next 6 years. With 500,000 (approx 17%) additional pupils entering Secondary education, with no increase in teachers or resources, schools will struggle to deliver and will likely see an increase in teachers leaving the profession[4].

Infant class sizes have continued to rise with 95% of infants now being in a class of 30. Classes exceeding 30 stood at 2.2% in 2010 and is more than double at 4.5% (Figure 5)

  1. Schools, pupils and their characteristics as at January 2019 - Page 3, Gov.uk, published 27 June 2019: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/812539/Schools_Pupils_and_their_Characteristics_2019_Main_Text.pdf
  2. School and pupil numbers by school characteristics as of January 2019 (Page 4), Gov.uk, published 27 June 2019: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/812539/Schools_Pupils_and_their_Characteristics_2019_Main_Text.pdf
  3. Schools, pupils and their characteristics as at January 2019 - Page 3, Gov.uk, published 27 June 2019: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/812539/Schools_Pupils_and_their_Characteristics_2019_Main_Text.pdf
  4. Secondary class sizes rise for fourth year running, Schools Week, 27 June 2019: https://schoolsweek.co.uk/secondary-class-sizes-rise-for-fourth-year-running/

Teacher Morale

Teachers in England have lowest job satisfaction of all English-speaking countries according to UCL Institute of Education (IoE) research. Fifteen of the countries where reasonable comparisons can be made – which include Israel, Sweden and the US – had “much higher” teacher job satisfaction than in England. Researchers analysed data from more than 100,000 teachers who had taken part in the most recent Teaching and Learning International Survey - including nearly 2,500 teachers from England.

"Research shows teachers become dissatisfied with work if they are not given the freedom to get on with their jobs. But teachers in England have seen a big increase in paperwork and data entry in recent years. Cutting red tape would help restore morale in the profession,” - Dr Sam Sims, Research leader at UCL IoE

Much of the issue can be put down to excessive workloads, which are driven largely by a relentless series of government reforms and severe accountability measures[1].

A survey carried out by the NUT foundh 53 per cent of teachers in England and 46 per cent in Wales said they were: “thinking of leaving the profession in the next two years.” The NUT argues that misguided government policy is increasingly the root cause of teachers’ misery and has led to this collapse in morale. The NUT survey also found that more than two-thirds of teachers felt that morale had declined in the past five years and 73 per cent felt that current policy was narrow, restrictive, and uncreative.

Research has found that there are three main motivators in work:

  • competence: does our work allow us to feel like we are good at what we do, or do we constantly feel as though we are failing?
  • autonomy: are we able to express ourselves through what we do, or do we simply feel like a pawn at the mercy of somebody else’s agenda?
  • relatedness: does what we’re doing make us feel valued and cared about in a larger sense?

These are the three areas that the Tories have undermined with lower rewards, a growing number of checks of teacher performance and a restrictive regime that does not allow teachers to teach according to needs.

A study from Virgina Tech clearly demonstrated how a system narrowly focused upon pupil achievement and standardised testing had invaded teachers’ working lives so much that they had been completely robbed of any sense of personal autonomy. As one teacher suggested: "I’m not the teacher I used to be. I couldn’t wait to get to school every day because I loved being great at what I do. All of the most powerful teaching tools I used to use every day are no good to me now because they don’t help children get ready for the test, and it makes me like a robot instead of a teacher. I didn’t need a degree to do what I do now. They don’t need real teachers to prepare children for tests and, in fact, I think they could just develop computer programmes to do this." [2][3]

  1. Teachers in England have lowest job satisfaction of all English-speaking countries, study finds, Independent, 19 September 2018: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/teachers-england-job-satisfaction-shortages-ucl-study-workload-pay-us-a8543621.html
  2. Are teachers suffering from a crisis of motivation? National Education Union, 2015: https://www.teachers.org.uk/expert-view/are-teachers-suffering-crisis-motivation
  3. Are teachers suffering from a crisis of motivation?, The Conversation, 7 October 2015: https://theconversation.com/are-teachers-suffering-from-a-crisis-of-motivation-48637

Teacher Pay

Teachers have seen a 10-15% drop in pay in real terms over the last since 2010 or equivalent to £4000 to £9000 for leader & classroom teachers (£4400 on average as of 2018)[1][2]. In 2019 they were awarded a 2.75% payrise, but schools were expected to find 2% of the payrise out of current budgets which is extremely difficult to carry out when schools are already struggling with funding shortages. Academies, where many are already in deficit, do not need to award the 2%, so in many cases teachers will only receive a 0.75% payrise, pushing their wages even further behind inflation[3].

Teachers and Unions are demanding a 5% rise in September 2019 to try offset the loses due to inflation. This will not bring them back to 2010 wage levels[4].

  1. School Workforce in England (page 8), November 2018 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/811622/SWFC_MainText.pdf
  2. Pay campaign, National Education Union, 2019: https://neu.org.uk/campaigns/pay-campaign
  3. Schools face cutbacks to fund pay rise for teachers in England, Guardian, 22 July 2019: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/jul/22/schools-cutbacks-pay-rise-teachers-england
  4. Schools staff crisis looms as austerity hits teachers’ pay, Guardian, 9 February 2019: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/feb/09/teacher-pay-down-real-terms-since-2003