This week the Guardian newspaper reported low morale in UK schools with many teachers saying that they feel demoralised and overworked. The survey suggests that they also felt that they face constant criticism and unrealistic expectations.
“The YouGov poll of 852 teachers commissioned by the National Union of Teachers found that 42% of respondents rated their morale as low or very low, with 59% feeling it had declined in the past two years; only 27% described their morale as high.”
Whilst the results may in part be contributed to by the timing of the survey (coming to the end of the academic year in the UK), I wouldn’t be surprised if similar responses would be evident in Australia.
The most rewarding aspect of the job, say 92% of those surveyed is being in the classroom with pupils and seeing them progress.
According to the survey results, the biggest obstacle in the UK is seen as “the constantly changing policy initiative, cited by 63%, followed by large amounts of unnecessary paperwork, 62%, constant external criticism of teachers, 58%, and unrealistic expectations of what they can achieve within a working week, 53%.” Teachers in Australia are expressing similar concerns.
The deciding factor if they were to leave the profession would be the excessive workload for 71%, followed by changes to pay and pensions, 56%.
Christine Blower, the NUT general secretary, said that recruiting teachers could be an uphill struggle unless the government started to listen.
“While teaching is certainly one of the best possible professions, this survey illustrates how it is also now one of the hardest.
“Teachers should not be in a position where constant criticism and undermining of their job leaves them so demoralised. The rewards of classroom teaching are immense but increasingly teachers will balance this against the struggle of dealing with every changing initiatives, an excessive workload, unfair inspection systems, and worsening pay and pensions.”
Teaching is BOTH rewarding and demanding. It is important that we as teachers keep in mind the BIG picture of the various change agendas and appreciate the difference that we DO make in the lives of both the students we teach and their families. Often we get caught up in what we still have to do on our TO DO list and don’t take time to appreciate what we achieve on a daily basis.