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State school teachers face significantly poorer job quality compared to their private school peers

Sixty percent of state school teachers report always coming home from work exhausted compared to 37% of teachers at ‘top’ private schools, finds research from Professor Francis Green.

Teacher teaching at a private school science class. Credit: Cavan for Adobe via Adobe Stock.

Cavan for Adobe via Adobe Stock.

The prevalence stands in contrast to 18% of non-teachers, while 50% of teachers in ‘other’ private schools similarly reported always coming home from work exhausted. 

The disparity in teacher’s working conditions between private and state schools is highlighted in a new report published by think tank Private Education Policy Forum (PEPF) over the weekend, written by Professor Green (IOE) with researchers at Cardiff University.  

The report analysed data from a National Education Union (NEU) survey of over 14,000 teachers in both sectors. This includes educators at ‘top’ private schools, identified as the institutions featured in The Times Parent Power 2023 Performance Guide to Schools. 

The findings also indicate a disparity in task autonomy: only 60% of state school teachers reported having a great deal of choice over daily tasks, compared to 78% of teachers in top private schools and 70% in other private schools. 

Psychological research shows that the effect of high work intensity is greater in contexts of low task autonomy. State school teachers, who have reported less task autonomy, describe working at a higher speed three-quarters of the time (86%) – though this number is also reflected in the responses of private school teachers (80%). 

Private school teachers have also reported strenuous working conditions, suggesting that these challenges are reflected across both sectors – especially in contrast to other professions. 

One teacher said:

“It's not good, expected to do too many hours. No work-life balance, no support from senior management, no support for my mental health”.

The report notes however that there are fewer favourable reports about working conditions from state school teachers – suggesting these circumstances may have contributed to the 15,000 teachers who moved from state to private schools between 2014 and 2023. 

The report calls on leaders in the government, state and private sectors to address problems around teacher workload. 

Professor Green says

“The government has been warned over and over about the exhausting working conditions faced by teachers but keeps failing to properly act. Sticking-plaster policies will not cut it. 

“Now, our research shows that those working at state schools face especially exhausting conditions compared to those in private schools. It means the decades-long failure to improve poorer working conditions in state schools is exacerbating the many gaps between the state and private sector, to the detriment of the 93% of children in the state-funded sector.”



Channel website: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe

Original article link: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/news/2024/may/state-school-teachers-face-significantly-poorer-job-quality-compared-their-private-school-peers

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