Primary teachers 'not valued or paid enough'

Primary schools have some 'brilliant' science teachers but suffer from a lack of staff with relevant expertise, leading scientists warn
30th December 2020, 1:28pm
Amy Gibbons

Share

Primary teachers 'not valued or paid enough'

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/primary-teachers-not-valued-or-paid-enough
Primary School Science Lesson

Primary school teachers are "not valued nearly enough", nor paid enough, for the "most important job" they do, experts have said.

And society must value primary teachers with science expertise "much more" to counter a shortfall of specialist staff, according to renowned scientist Lord Winston and chemist and astronaut Helen Sharman.

Lord Winston, a professor at Imperial College London and an author and broadcaster, told BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House programme that there were "big problems in education", with primary school teachers "not valued nearly enough".


Covid: Teachers 'unsupported and unappreciated' in pandemic

Viewpoint: 'We need to respect teachers' excellent work'

Robert Winston: 'We undervalue our primary teachers'


He added that "very, very few" primary teachers hold a science qualification.

"I think there's huge hope, but I think there are big problems in education, there's no question, our educational system is not adequate," he said.

"Primary school teachers are just not valued nearly enough; they're not paid enough; they do a most important job when the brain is at its most plastic; and of course, unfortunately, very, very few primary school teachers who are teaching science actually have a science qualification, even an A level in science."

Dr Sharman, said there were "some brilliant science teachers" at primary level, but there remained "a lack of specialist science teachers".

"There are some brilliant science teachers in junior schools so we shouldn't forget them, but junior schools do suffer with a lack of specialist science teachers or even teachers who've got some science background in primary schools," she said.

She added that it would help if teachers could answer pupils' scientific questions "rather than just having to say 'well, whatever's in the textbook'."

"It's hardly surprising that they end up being perhaps a bit confused and turn off from science," Dr Sharman said.

"Because when they ask questions they're sort of fobbed off sometimes because teachers don't have the time, they don't have the energy, and they actually try their best.

"It's trying to get those people who have got a very good understanding of science to want to go and teach at primary school level. We need to value that teaching much more as a society."

 

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters