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Private school teachers' workload increases as fees rise

Private school teachers are working longer hours for low pay rises despite soaring increases in school fees, according to research.

A survey by the ATL teaching union reveals that more than two-thirds of teachers in independent schools work more than 48 hours a week during term time. Almost a quarter work more than 60 hours.

The poll comes as the government is calling for the profession to take part in its Workload Challenge survey, which asks teachers to describe their average working day and what could be done to lift the burden of excessive workload.

More than a fifth of private school staff who responded to the ATL's survey said that they would receive a smaller pay rise than their state school counterparts. Nearly two-thirds will receive a cost-of-living increase of between 1 and 2 per cent, and one in six will not receive an increase at all.

One anonymous respondent said: “We are in a culture of being expected to go the extra mile, to work in all free periods, breaks and activity sessions. When we told the deputy head that staff are near to breaking point, he told us we can go and see the counsellor if we can't cope or talk to our union."

Teachers also reported that pupil numbers were increasing, indicating that most independent schools were recovering from the depths of the recession. Almost half of respondents stated that pupil numbers had increased for this academic year. 

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL, said: “The hidden story in pay austerity is the ever-increasing hours members are expected to work. It’s appalling to find that more than two-thirds of teachers in independent schools work more than 48 hours a week. Working such long hours affects staff well-being and also affects their teaching.

“Schools are expecting staff to do more and more but are not paying them for it, despite the fact that schools are full and fees have increased, leaving staff feeling under-appreciated and deflated.”

Charlotte Vere, acting general secretary of the Independent Schools Council, said: "The excellent academic results that ISC independent schools continue to achieve is down to the quality and dedication of our hardworking teachers.
“All our schools, by virtue of their independence, are free to set their own pay and timetables for teaching staff. Like many organisations in the UK, independent schools are confronted by rising costs following a long period of austerity and it is a continuing challenge to balance these pressures on costs with the need to keep fee levels down.
"Nonetheless, there is no doubt that there is a sincere commitment from ISC schools  to strive to reward what is recognised as being our greatest asset, our teaching staff.”

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