workload wages and woe

In 2015 I decided i was going to write my Higher portfolio piece about a group of professionals  i believed to be hugely undervalued by society….. teachers. i wanted my teachers especially Miss Duncan to see how much i valued everything that they did not only for me but everyone at the school.  So here it is the moment i am sure you have all been eagerly waiting for, my fifth year higher English essay entitled “Workload Wages and Woe”.

Workload, Wages and Woe,

How many movies have you watched where the theme of the story revolves around an outstanding teacher turning around the life of an under-achieving student through their inspirational teaching? Ask any parent what the most important factor is when choosing a school for their precious offspring and the answer, undoubtedly, would be the quality of a school’s teaching staff. It is this essential ingredient that is crucial to the potential life-changing decision pupils have to make. Parents want their children to experience the best education possible. Why else would affluent parents be willing to pay considerable sums of money to privately educate their children? In today’s competitive dog-eat-dog world, educational success and qualifications can mean the difference between successfully securing a university or college place, leading to employment as opposed to joining the army of claimants waiting in line for their turn to sign on at the benefit office or stacking the shelves at their local supermarket. The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, agrees that the education of the younger generation is pivotal to the continuing success of our nation. So why do we still continue to pay teachers considerably lower salaries than other professionals?

There are many who argue that there are other “perks” to this career path and the people who choose this profession are fully aware of the salary scale prior to embarking on their career. Critics cite that no other profession has the luxury of a six week break during the summer months as well as a full two weeks “off” to enjoy both the Christmas and Easter celebrations. In addition to the holiday entitlement comes a shorter working day, a final salary pension, job security and a wealth of opportunities to choose from. They argue that No other degree or post-graduate course offers a guaranteed paid work placement for a year after graduation and therefore a guaranteed employment history to add to a CV. Sounds like the dream job?

The reality of life at the “chalk face” is, however, very different. In the challenging society we live in today, teaching is a difficult, demanding and, at times, dangerous job which all too often passes without appreciation and, as present salary levels confirm, totally undervalued. Whilst school walls provide the environment where lessons are delivered, it is mostly at home, in the evenings, at weekends, and during the school holidays that these lessons are planned and prepared. It is public knowledge that teachers’ contracts state a thirty five hour working week versus the usual forty hours for other workers. Yet a survey of 3500 primary teachers, who had to record hours of work over a two week period, revealed that the average teacher actually works forty six and a half hours per week. The union has described the workload as “unsustainable”. Perhaps this explains why it has been stated that Scotland has a “chronic” shortage of teachers? In non-teaching positions, full-time workers can leave work in the office and not have to take it home with them. Yet a teacher is still marking and preparing for the next day’s lesson every evening at home. Moreover, the “overtime work” is unpaid and not accounted for. Imagine if your employer asked you to work overtime (an extra day and a half a week) but then added in the fact that you would not be recompensed for it. I am quite sure that other professions would feel aggrieved and resentful. Yet this is a regular occurrence in the teaching profession.


It has recently been declared by the Scottish government that literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing are the responsibilities of all teachers.  people with poor numeracy skills are twice as likely to be unemployed that those who are competent with numbers, this puts a massive amount of pressure on teachers to ensure that all their pupils have a basic understanding of numeracy and are comfortable using numbers. By ensuring that their students are proficient at maths it does not only allow them to further their studies in education but it also makes them more likely to get an affluent job which in turn should have a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.

Along with being responsible for literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing, John Swinny has stated that his main focus is for teachers to close the attainment gap within social classes. This is an challenge as we live in a far more diverse world, where people from all different back grounds attempt to undertake examinations. With a


The self-fulfilling prophecy is another issue that teachers need to overcome how many people have said to their children “I wasn’t good at maths so I don’t expect you to be “lucky for me I never heard this as both my parents are bankers. However for a child to hear this it can been detrimental to their confidence and can result in lower achievement rates. it is then declared the responsibility of teachers to redirect children’s attitude towards maths and to inc===


Indeed, school teachers are highly trained and are required to undertake a minimum of four years of studying in order to achieve the qualifications necessary to teach. Yet comparative careers such as banking can pay up to twenty thousand pounds a year as a starting salary which rapidly increases to a staggering wage of seventy two thousand pounds per annum, and in some cases even more. This often does not even include guaranteed bonuses which can vary from ten percept of the annual salary to around twenty five percent. This is just simply obscene when a teacher’s starting salary is a mere £21,867, and only expected to rise to £34,887 per annum at the top of the scale. It is grossly unfair that teachers are not financially rewarded when they are the people at the heart of the future enhancing the prosperity of this nation. What is more important: the future generation or bank balances?

The dangers teacher’s faces are evident as a recent incident, at a school in Aberdeen, shows. A young boy was stabbed by a peer and tragically died. This incident should never have occurred in a place which is meant to be a sanctuary. This shows the reality of the type of incidents that teachers can end up having to face. Similarly, teachers are now expected to deal with increasingly complex issues in the classroom and are expected to attend training sessions with Mental Health Professionals so that they have the necessary skills to deal with the multitude of issues faced by today’s teens. This piles more and more pressure on tired teachers who have to deal with complex issues. This is simply outrageous. It has recently been revealed that one in ten children have a form of mental health issue which is especially worrying when it is reported that these statistics are rocketing. I understand that something has to be done to prevent these issues from spiralling out of control but surely these responsibilities should not be forced upon teachers. I understand we need to keep the best intentions of the pupils in mind but what about the teachers; do they not matter? Whilst a pupil is at school, their safety is not the responsibility of their parents or guardians but, with the implementation of the GIRFEC initiative, the responsibility of their Pupil Care and Support Teachers. This enforces a massive responsibility on teachers. Why? Why give one person the overall responsibility of looking after two hundred children? This is surely an impossible task for anyone, looking after twenty children at once is hard enough but imagine having that responsibility ? If you take your eye off a problem or miss something in their behaviour and it ends in tragedy, it all falls back on that one teacher. Would you like to be the one left dealing with the aftermath of that?

Therefore, it is clear that teachers are not correctly compensated for the position of responsibility they hold. What other profession puts someone in charge of over twenty vulnerable young people at a time? Moreover, what other profession leaves a person with the future of our nation in their hands? This is exactly what teachers deal with, day in, day out. Without the correct influences the future of our nation is bleak. Now going back to the perks of this vocation, surely this “dream job” seems more of a nightmare.





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