Private school teachers ‘working longer hours for little or no extra pay’

Teachers in independent schools are working longer hours and are not enjoying enough uninterrupted lunch breaks, a new poll from teaching union the ATL shows.

Forty-one per cent of private school teachers are missing out on an undisturbed 40-minute lunch break every day as they are expected to run extra-curricular clubs and activities, supervise children while eating, or attend departmental meetings, the survey finds.

The poll, of more than 1,000 teaching staff, also reveals that 16 per cent of teachers in independent schools are having to work long hours each day – with some working up to 14 hours.

Many members reported that they simply have to “work until the job is done”, no matter how many hours that entails. The survey found that 66 per cent do not receive any additional allowances or payments for extra work carried out.

A quarter of independent school teachers (24 per cent) will only receive a pay increase of less than 1 per cent for this academic year. The lack of real-terms pay increases comes despite almost half (45 per cent) reporting that pupil numbers have risen, with 13 per cent of members having to teach more pupils in their class.

A female teacher in the South West said: “I have not had a pay rise in more than seven years from my school but I’m required to do an increasing amount of work and at weekends.”

Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, said: “It is disheartening that independent school staff have to work considerably long hours and are not even getting a reasonable break during the day in which to recharge.

“Excessive workload is one of the most serious issues facing the education profession. It affects the quality of teaching and learning our members are able to deliver. It is driving experienced and valuable staff from the profession and is having a hugely detrimental impact on personal lives.

“Private schools also need to recognise the worth of their staff and pay them fairly. If not, staff are left disheartened, with many leaving the profession – adding to the already large-scale problem of teacher shortages.”

Neil Roskilly, chief executive of the Independent Schools Association (ISA), said: “The ATL survey recognises the dedication that private school staff show to their pupils. The increased pressure felt by many in recent years reflects the greater level of public accountability that is common to both the state and private sectors, particularly in the face of such a robust inspections regime.

“But the terms and conditions of teachers in the independent sector are vastly superior to the state sector, and that’s why private school teachers show such loyalty to their schools.

“Mary Bousted’s view that private schools do not value their teachers is just bonkers and it does make me question how many private schools she has ever visited.”

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