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“Teachers are working eight weeks a year for free”

“Teachers are working eight weeks a year for free”

Friday 08 April 2022

“Teachers are working eight weeks a year for free”

Friday 08 April 2022

Teachers are calling for their working terms and conditions to be re-examined, according to a union, after a survey found around three in five had considered leaving their jobs in the last year.

The National Education Union said the “key issues” were “volume of work, working long hours and pay – concerns that they have wanted resolved since 2019.

"...Despite numerous requests, we have had no update to the adjustments to terms and conditions and we are still using the same guidance from 2013, almost a decade out of date," an NEU spokesperson said.

"Reforming teachers' terms and conditions should be an integral part of the education reform program that is currently being conducted, however, there seems to be little desire or enthusiasm to investigate and work on this to improve the conditions for teachers."


Pictured: The most common reasons behind why teachers had thought about leaving.

The comments followed this week's release of the 2021/2022 Teachers' Survey.

Teachers were asked to report the total amount of hours they had worked over the most recent complete week and were asked to include all time they had spent teaching, planning lessons, marking, collaborating with other teachers, participating in staff meetings and all other tasks related to the job.

The average number of hours worked by full-time teachers was reported to be 53. For senior leaders, hours averaged 61.

Fewer than half (43%) said they felt well paid for what they do.

The NEU noted that the worsaid this finding was "hardly surprising".

"Teachers have reported working 53 hours a week in an average week (the 1660 contractual hours in the 39 weeks of a school year equals 42.5 hours/week). This effectively means teachers are working 20% more than they are paid to do, so teachers are working eight weeks a year for free!" a spokesperson said.

"Teachers are not eligible for overtime, in our view the government continues to exploit the dedication of teachers to do the best for their students. This is shown in the survey where the interactions and relationships with pupils was the key aspect (at 95%) of the role that the teachers enjoyed. The NEU and other unions are currently in pay negotiations with the government and we do hope that the States Employment Board and their representatives look very carefully at this report and consider the impact of its findings when they conduct these negotiations and the longer-term impact of their decisions on recruitment of teachers within Jersey."


Pictured: Teachers' main concerns about the job.

The survey also touched upon experiences of unacceptable behaviour from students.

More than half had been verbally abused by a pupil in the classroom, while around one in four had been threatened with physical harm, and 14% being attacked.

A small number also reported threats and attacks, both in person and online, from parents or guardians.

"These findings reflect some of the difficult working conditions that teachers face, and this leads to high levels of anxiety. This is evidenced in the report with almost 60% of teachers feeling anxious (high or medium) at some point in the previous day to the survey compared to 40% of the general population," the NEU spokesperson added.

"Only 56% of teachers said that their health and well-being was very good or good reflecting the stresses of their role."

Covid was found to have exacerbated mental wellbeing issues. As many as 95% of teachers reported that they are sometimes, often, or always stressed or anxious.


Pictured: Teachers and students' stress levels have risen following the pandemic.

Four out of five teachers also noticed an increase in stress, anxiety and panic attacks among students since the start of the pandemic.

"...They are desperate to have suitable resources to tackle these issues," the NEU said.

"63% of teachers feel that access to external specialist support for poor pupil behavior is not adequate and this means that those children are falling through the cracks in the system. There is an increase in the number of staff year on year who feel that these external specialist support agencies are inadequate."

The NEU said the findings of the survey should act as a "wake-up call" for Government.

The survey was originally due to be published in February. The delay in publication meant there was "now little opportunity for discussion on the findings with teachers prior to the Easter break", the NEU noted.

However, Group Director of Education Seán O'Regan said the Government has already "started to plan our responses to our teachers' concerns".

"We are doing this through working with school leaders, teachers' unions and professional associations, and officers across the Government of Jersey," he added.

Mr O'Regan said he was "proud" of how teachers and education staff had "risen so well" to the challenges of covid, but said he was aware "this has taken a toll on their wellbeing and mental health."

"There is a range of support in place for all Government of Jersey staff, including those in schools and colleges. This includes access to resources, information and advice, as well as access to counselling, where appropriate," he added.

Click HERE to read the survey in full.

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Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

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Posted by IanSmith97 on
A civil servant is contracted for 1920 hours per week, with a starting annual leave of 20 days plus 9 bank holidays. A teacher is contracted for 1660 hours with 13 weeks of leave. Poor teachers.
Posted by IanSmith97 on
Obviously civ servs are contracted 1920 hours per year not per week!
Posted by June Summers Shaw on
What Teachers are contracted for Mr Smith and what they actually do are completely different. I, and my family have first hand experience and I can assure you that the holidays are taken up with work too.
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