Teaching is our calling

6th January 2006 at 00:00
TES poll reveals two-thirds of teachers are happy with their jobs despite no reduction in workload

Two-thirds of teachers are committed to the job and happy at work, despite mounting concerns over workload, a TES poll reveals.

The majority said they had no regrets about entering the profession and only 8 per cent said teaching was no longer their true calling.

The poll of 500 teachers, including 82 heads or deputy heads, reveals that the promise of a "rewarding and varied" job and the chance to work with children were the main reasons for entering the profession.

They are content with their lot despite overwhelming evidence that working conditions appear to be tougher than ever, with many teachers being forced to stay late at school and work at least an hour at home every night.

Sixty per cent of those who have children say they no longer have time to share an evening meal with their families every night.

An overwhelming 70 per cent of staff say they now find themselves under greater pressure than in the same period in 2002. This is despite the introduction of government reforms in September which aim to give them at least one half day a week outside the classroom to mark and prepare work.

Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said:

"It is very disappointing that the workforce agreement has not achieved the reduction in workload that was intended. Teachers must be tired to death of hearing workload is going to be reduced when all they see is it expanding."

Only one in 50 teachers said they entered teaching for the money and career prospects, although pay and prospects were important secondary factors. The average salary for a teacher is pound;32,000 and it is not unusual for heads to earn six-figure sums.

The survey, carried out by FDS International in November and December, showed that 71 per cent of the workforce said that they saw teaching as a vocation or calling when they first entered the profession. Overwhelmingly, teachers retain their sense of calling, with just one in eight teachers (12 per cent) confessing that they have lost their sense of vocation.

The poll's positive findings may help to explain why recruitment to the profession has improved.

More than two-thirds of teachers in the TES survey said their workload had increased over the past four years. The figure for heads and other members of the management team was up to 80 per cent, mirroring Ofsted's conclusions last month that workforce reform had failed to ease the burden on senior staff.

The hours teachers spend at school also seems to be increasing. The survey shows 51 per cent leave home before 7.30am compared to 31 per cent four years ago, although earlier starting times are more common in the South where journeys to work take longer. The proportion of teachers who leave for school before 7.30am and arrive home after 6pm has almost doubled to 18 per cent.

Nineteen out of 20 teachers say they have to work at home every night, with three-quarters spending over an hour marking or preparing lessons.

John Connolly, head of recruitment challenges at the Training and Development Agency for Schools, said: "A large number of teachers are driven by a calling to encourage and nurture the next generation."

News 6 platform 21, leader 22

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