More money? We don't believe it

9th January 2004 at 00:00
Almost half of teachers think schools are less well funded than when Labour came to power despite ministerial pronouncements. Jon Slater reports.

Almost half of teachers believe that schools are worse off now than when Labour came to power even though official figures show spending has increased by a quarter.

The findings of the TES poll suggest that teachers' confidence in ministers' spending promises has been shattered by last year's funding crisis.

More than 50 per cent of teachers say morale has fallen in the past year, compared to just 8 per cent who say it has improved.

Morale has fallen further in secondary schools than in primaries by falling morale, the poll shows.

But even those whose workload has fallen are more likely to report morale getting worse (34 per cent) than better (19 per cent).

Higher pay is the only positive factor teachers report among a litany of complaints about the Government's record. These include lower status, increased insecurity and less job satisfaction.

Just a quarter of secondary and one in five primary teachers believe that schools are better funded now than they were in 1997.

The finding is disappointing for ministers who have overseen an increase in real per pupil funding in England from pound;2,930 in 1996-7 to pound;3,660 last year.

Teachers in Wales are even more gloomy. Only one in seven believes schools are now better off.

However, some commentators have suggested that the increases in education spending have been swallowed up by rises in salaries.

The poll reveals that teachers recognise they have received a bigger share of the funding cake.

Four in 10 teachers say pay has improved since Labour came to power, more than double the number who say it has declined.

Primary staff and those who have been in the profession for fewer than five years feel less well rewarded than their colleagues.

By contrast, older staff feel that the status of the profession has declined. Half of teachers over the age of 50 say teaching is now held in lower esteem than six years ago compared to a quarter of the under 30s.

Overall, 45 per cent say status has declined compared to 44 per cent who say it has stayed the same and just 7 per cent who report an improvement.

Older staff also take a more negative view of job satisfaction. More than 60 per cent of the over 40s say teaching is less satisfying than in 1997.

This compares to 54 per cent for all teachers.

One reason for this may be insecurity. While a third of all teachers feel teaching has become less secure, the figure rises to 40 per cent for the over 50s.

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