Five ways in which teaching compares with a career in the police or nursing

Teachers work at least as many hours as police officers, for lower pay, according to a NFER study. Here are five facts revealed by the research:

Will Hazell

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Today a study looking at how teaching compares to a career as a nurse or police officer was published by the National Foundation for Educational Research.

The report makes for interesting reading – not least because it scotches the myth that the long hours worked by teachers are compensated by school holidays

Here are four other findings:

1. Teachers work the joint highest number of hours

According to the NFER's analysis, teachers work the joint highest number of hours each year with police officers.

The NFER says it is difficult to place an exact figure on how many hours teachers work, because "we do not know from established sources how many hours teachers work during school holidays". However, it outlines two scenarios – one in which teachers work the day before and day after each term starts and ends, and a second in which they work for three weeks during the school holiday period.

In the first scenario, full-time teachers worked 2,000 hours a year in 2015-16 - the same as full-time police officers. But in the second scenario they worked 80 hours more a year than police officers – equivalent to nearly two extra hours per week.

2. Teachers receive the joint lowest hourly pay

Teachers have – with nurses – the joint lowest average hourly pay. Under the first of the NFER's first scenario, teachers' real average hourly pay was £17.70 per hour in 2015-16. This was about the same as nurses, but lower than police officers, who earned £18.80 per hour.

However, in the second scenario, teachers' real average hourly pay is estimated to be £17.10. The NFER's report states that "in this scenario... teachers work the most hours per year of the three professions, but have the lowest real average hourly pay".

3. Teachers have had the biggest fall in hourly pay

Between 2009-10 and 2015-16, the real average hourly pay of teachers decreased by the most compared with the other two professions. 

Over that period, their real average pay fell by 15 per cent. Police officers, meanwhile, saw an 11 per cent reduction, while nurses' real average hourly pay fell by 4 per cent. 

4. But teachers have higher satisfaction with their income

Perhaps counterintuitively, given a background of falling real-terms hourly pay, 79 per cent of teachers in 2015-16 said they were satisfied with their income.

This was higher than nurses (68 per cent) and police officers (70 per cent).

And despite the longer hours, 78 per cent of teachers reported that they were satisfied with their jobs – lower than nurses (81 per cent) but higher than police officers (67 per cent).

5. Nevertheless, teachers are more likely to leave the profession

Despite job and income satisfaction comparing relatively well to policing and nursing, more teachers are leaving the profession each year. In teaching, 12.3 per cent of full-time staff leave the profession per year, compared with 9.9 per cent of nurses and 7.7 per cent of police officers.

The NFER suggests that "the need to continually have to work a large amount of additional hours to keep up with the demands of the job" may explain the higher rate of turnover.

And, indeed, there is one area of satisfaction where teaching compares poorly with the other two professions: just 47 per cent of teachers said they were satisfied with their leisure time, compared with 60 per cent of nurses and 58 per cent of police officers.

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Will Hazell

Will Hazell

Will Hazell is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @whazell

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