England comes last for teacher job satisfaction

Just three other countries have teachers who are as dissatisfied as those in England, research suggests

Helen Ward

Teachers in England are among the most dissatisfied, research shows

Nowhere has worse teacher job satisfaction than England, according to new research from the UCL Institute of Education.

The researchers looked at job satisfaction among 22 countries which had data comparable to England – and found that only Latvia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic had similarly dissatisfied teachers – while those in Australia, New Zealand and the USA were much happier.

Job satisfaction was measured through combining the answers to four questions: whether they enjoyed their work, whether they would recommend their job to others, whether they would like to leave their school and their level of satisfaction with their working life.

The working paper, written by a research team led by Dr Sam Sims, used data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Teaching and Learning International Survey (Talis), which included nearly 2,500 teachers from England.

“These results are a real wake-up call. It is not surprising that so many teachers are leaving the profession when morale is this low,” said Dr Sims.

Teachers' 'big increase in workload'

He added: “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.”

The study found that countries with "much higher" rates of teacher job satisfaction than England were: Australia, Bulgaria, Canada (Alberta), Denmark, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, Sweden, the USA, Brazil, Belgium (Flanders), Georgia, Italy and Norway.

Those with "higher" rates of teacher job satisfaction were: Poland, Russia, Croatia and France.

Dr Sims said: “It’s important to note that this data was collected in 2013. However, declining rates of teacher retention since then suggest the situation is unlikely to have improved much in recent years.”

The paper comes after the OECD published data last week showing that teachers in England had suffered the second biggest real-terms pay cut in the developed world - with pay falling on average by 10 per cent between 2005 and 2017. Only Greece had a bigger fall.

Comparing job satisfaction across countries is difficult because variations in culture, language and social norms can mean that different groups respond to these questions in different ways.

Because of this, another 13 countries in the Talis data – including East Asian nations such as Singapore – were deemed not comparable to England.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "The education secretary’s top priority is to ensure that teaching remains an attractive and fulfilling profession.

“We are taking action to support hard-working teachers and we are tackling unnecessary workload. We are also ensuring teachers are fairly rewarded and recently announced a rise of up to 3.5 per cent for classroom teachers on the main pay range, funded by a pay grant of £508 million."

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

Latest stories