The happy majority

12th December 2003 at 00:00
But teachers are not satisfied with pay or the Government's education record. William Stewart reports

The overwhelming majority of teachers are happy in their jobs, despite high levels of dissatisfaction over pay and the Government's record on education.

In response to questions commissioned by The TES, Mori pollsters found that 89 per cent of teachers in England and Wales were satisfied with their jobs, and almost half (48 per cent) "very satisfied". They also revealed that 47 per cent felt they were not paid fairly with only 43 per cent agreeing that they were.

Mori's survey, of a representative sample of 984 state school teachers, had further bad news for the Government, revealing that only 30 per cent thought it was delivering on education. A majority (51 per cent) of teachers were dissatisfied with the Government's performance on education, with 17 per cent "very dissatisfied".

Teachers' leaders welcomed the results, interpreting them as a testament to the enduring attraction of the profession despite often difficult circumstances.

Caroline Fowler, a Year 1 teacher at Albourne CE primary school, West Sussex, said: "I love my job, I love working with the children. Every day is different. To see someone able to read suddenly, or write a word is wonderful. But the money is a pittance. My husband earns four times as much as I do and doesn't have to go into work on a Sunday to plan lessons or set up the classroom."

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: "It is wonderful that teachers are still experiencing the job satisfaction that comes from working with children and seeing them progress. But it is not surprising that they don't feel fairly rewarded in the light of the current pay deal."

Teachers' rejection of government policy will be a blow to a New Labour administration which has always seen education as its key policy area.

It comes in the same week as an Office for Standards in Education report criticises teaching standards in primary education, which Labour made an early priority. It is also a crucial week as Education Secretary Charles Clarke struggles to stave off a revolt by backbench MPs over university top-up tuition fees.

The poll indicates disillusionment sets in rapidly. While 47 per cent of newly-qualified teachers declared themselves satisfied with the Government's performance, just 27 per cent of teachers with one to five years' experience felt the same way.

Those dissatisfied with government performance were more likely to be unhappy with their pay. Andrew Todde-Wilson, a 33-year-old English teacher, and former Labour supporter, was heartened by the "education, education, education" pledge Mr Blair made when he came to power in 1997.

But today he works an estimated 73 hours a week in his job at a comprehensive in Halifax, West Yorkshire, and does not believe that the Government has delivered. "I am totally sickened and disgusted by their record and the bureaucracy and policy overload they have introduced," he said.

John Bangs, National Union of Teachers head of education, said: "Despite difficult circumstances, largely created by the Government, it is always worth remembering that teachers went into the profession because they wanted to help change people's lives and it is a tribute to them that they can be so enthusiastic about the job."

A Department for Education and Skills spokesman said: "Polls come and go.

The Government has significantly boosted teachers' pay since 1997; taken steps to improve working conditions; and is taking forward bold reforms of the workforce to give children more individual attention in the classroom and teachers more support with their workload."

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today