Red alert for job flirts

Alison Brace

If you're in the habit of flicking through the jobs pages and considering other careers, carry out an audit on yourself, says Alison Brace. You might be better off in teaching than you think

A recent survey has revealed us to be a nation of "job flirts", with 40 per cent of workers admitting they are on the hunt for a new job. And let's face it, teachers are not exempt from this.

Aside from a fresh challenge, Adecco, the recruitment firm, found that greater job security and more money were the motivators in any move. So before thinking of moving on - or even out of the profession - pause a while and carry out an audit of your salary and benefits. You might be better off than you think. So, pencil and paper at the ready...

First on your list: holidays. It's not all time off, we know, but those breaks are still very much a perk of the profession and the envy of everyone else. So what would they be worth in the private sector?

The NASUWT teaching union is happy to have a stab at a crude calculation: a teacher on a salary of pound;30,000, say, works 200 days, earning pound;150 a day. A non-teacher with four weeks off and eight bank holidays works 233 days. Spending an extra 33 days to-ing and fro-ing to the workplace would be worth pound;4,950, taking your private-sector salary up to nearly pound;35,000. But then there would be additional travel costs.

For some, there is another perk in those school breaks. "Extended holidays allow teachers to have a portfolio career by developing other interests - and sometimes earning a second income," says Lola James, managing director of Career Analysts, the job guidance experts. "This is virtually impossible in other careers."

Next on the list is the pension. The new teachers' scheme, introduced this month has been eyed enviously by the private sector. While most final salary schemes have been closed to new members, teachers have retained theirs, with employer contributions increasing to 14.1 per cent.

Private companies are struggling to honour payments from their stocks and shares to pensioners who are living longer, while teachers' pensions come out of future tax receipts. This Rolls Royce of pension schemes is not to be traded in lightly.

Then comes career progression. The introduction of teaching and learning responsibility payments has given the teaching career path a clear structure. And a guaranteed 10 per cent of the timetable out of the classroom is designed to lessen the out-of-hours workload, while in the private sector Britons are working longer hours. Both these "perks" are enshrined in law; trading them in would be worth thousands of pounds.

As for satisfaction, look no further than a survey carried out by the Training and Development Agency for Schools. Teachers identified themselves as the least bored profession. They ranked bottom of the TDA's Boredom Index, scoring just four out of 10, while administrators and secretaries topped the chart with a whopping 10 out of 10. The value of a challenging job? Priceless.

And finally, don't forget those other goodies: job security, strong unions to fight your corner if things go wrong, lower-cost mortgages or council help with buying your first home.

Then there are discounted school lunches - pound;1 a day for something edible (if you are lucky) versus pound;5 a day in the private sector for a pre-packed sandwich and instant coffee. And maybe there is even a Christmas gift or two from your pupils.

Just starting to feel that you are not so badly off after all? Well, here's a sobering thought: David Beckham will be well on his way to earning your annual salary in the time it has taken to read this article. Now, where did you put those football boots?

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Alison Brace

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