Seven out of 10 teachers in England have considered resigning in the past year, with more than half citing pay as a key factor, according to a survey of teachers.
More than half of those polled said they have been forced to cut back their spending on food, while one in 10 have taken on a second job and others have resorted to food banks and other charitable support.
The NASUWT teachers’ union, which commissioned the survey of 11,000 teachers before its national conference in Birmingham over the Easter weekend, said there would be an “unprecedented recruitment and retention crisis” unless there was a significant pay rise.
The government has promised to increase pay for newly qualified teachers in state schools, allowing starting salaries to rise from about £ 25,000 to £ 30,000 in 2024, meeting a commitment in the Conservative party’s 2019 election manifesto.
But the pay rise will come at the expense of much lower increases for teachers with more than five years in the classroom, or in senior roles. Those teachers instead face a real-terms pay cut of 5% over the next two years, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Delegates at the NASUWT conference will debate a motion calling for possible industrial action if the government is unwilling to enter into discussions over teachers’ pay.
Almost two-thirds of those who took part in the survey (64%) expressed anger over pay and said they felt they were being treated unfairly by the government. Only 1% said the felt teacher pay levels were about right.
As the cost of living crisis begins to bite, nearly nine in 10 (89%) said they were either very worried or somewhat worried about their financial situation. Almost seven in 10 (68%) have cut back expenditure on clothes, nearly a quarter (24%) have either increased their use of credit or applied for a payday loan and more than a half (56%) have dipped into savings.
Of those surveyed, 11% said they had taken a second job and just under 3% had resorted to food banks or other charitable assistance.
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: “Teachers across the UK, and at every stage of their career, are seriously questioning whether they can afford to continue another year in the education profession without a pay uplift that meets the sky-rocketing cost of living.
“The government has continuously failed to heed teachers’ warnings that the toll of 12 years of pay erosion and successive pay freezes can no longer be endured. Now we are living with the bleak reality of teachers having no choice but to seek second jobs, cut back on essential supplies such as food and even relying on the assistance of food banks. ”
Stephen Morgan, shadow schools minister, said Labor was committed to recruiting thousands of new teachers to fill vacancies. “Successive Conservative governments and two years of chaos during the pandemic have piled pressure on to school staff resulting in record numbers looking to leave our schools.
“Investing in school staff is investing in children’s learning and development. In failing teachers, the Conservatives are failing our children. ”
The motion before conference this weekend says that “unless there is a significant pay rise and restructure for teachers, there will continue to be an enormous recruitment and retention problem in the teaching profession”. It adds: “Conference is concerned that we lose many teachers in the first five years of their careers and that teaching has to be an attractive profession against other graduate professions that rewards and celebrates experience through fair and equitable pay.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Our latest proposals on teacher pay set out how we will deliver a £ 30,000 starting salary for teachers by 2023/24, as well as the highest experienced teacher pay award since 2006 in 2022/23.
“We understand that the rising cost of living is of concern to people across the country. We continue to balance rewarding teachers for their hard work – and attracting the brightest and the best into the profession – with a pay system that is appropriate and affordable for the taxpayer. ”