A YouGov survey of 852 teachers commissioned by the NUT into the highs and lows they face in schools and classrooms shows low morale and frustration at the continual criticism and interference of government as well as a general breadth of concern about many aspects of teaching.
While the vast majority of teachers (92%) said that working with children and seeing the difference they could make in their lives and classroom teaching was the aspect of the job they enjoyed most, only 3% considered their morale to be very high and 59% say that their morale has declined over the past two years.
The biggest obstacles to performing to the best of their ability was constantly changing policy initiatives (63%), unnecessary paperwork (62%), constant external criticism and undermining of teachers (58%) and unrealistic expectations on what can be achieved within the working week (53%).
Changes that teachers would find most helpful in their role as a teacher included greater consultation with the profession before policy initiatives were implemented (63%), time for initiatives to be embedded and evaluated (63%), less internal and external pressure (62%), smaller class sizes (46%) and a change in the focus of Ofsted to be one of identifying areas for support (41%).
The main reasons given for what would influence decisions to leave the profession are excessive workload (71%) and the pay and pension changes (56%). A lack of respect for the teaching profession was cited by 53% of respondents, whilst exactly half (50%) referred to constant changes/initiatives as a significant factor that would influence their decisions to leave the profession.
When asked what they would say to government the majority of teachers surveyed said they felt demoralised, deflated, devalued and overworked.
NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “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 ever changing initiatives, an excessive workload, unfair inspection systems and worsening pay and pensions. Recruiting teachers for the future will be an uphill struggle unless the government starts to listen.”