As the country continues to grow and our population continues to increase there will be a gradual increase in the required number of teachers. In many other professions this would lead to an increase in job availability and everybody would be happy. So why is this such a problem for teachers? Teachers are already overworked and with a continuing struggle to recruit new teachers this is only going to worsen.
Teachers are already overworked
It is said that teachers work for between 55-65 hours per week including weekends. This is longer than teachers in most other countries. This also does not include parents evenings or other extra circular activities. Teachers are consistently stretched to their maximum and in a job as full on as teaching, it is unsurprising that teachers feel overworked. Teachers are expected to always give their very best yet are given no rest bite to recover or even evaluate their current level of teaching. Worse of all is that most of this time is taken up by paperwork. Teachers become teachers to teach and inspire young people yet most of their time is taken up by admin. Some of this is unavoidable but the higher the level of admin, the less time available for teachers to inspire.
Population is still increasing
The number of births has been steadily increasing since 2002 and it is now we are starting to feel the strains that this is putting on our education system. The projected numbers are also concerning considering the problems we are already having. The number of births in 2010 was a massive 20 percent higher than that of 2002. With this huge influx of students hitting mainstream schooling it is worrying that we are losing so many quality teachers and struggling to recruit them. In fact nearly half of teachers surveyed, said they were leaving the profession in 5 years.
A concerning time ahead
A report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI), stated it was ‘unlikely’ that teachers will be able to reduce timetables and instead reported that class sizes are likely to increase in the future. This is going to mean that teachers workload will again increase due to marking and other admin. This will then mean teachers have less time to plan high quality lessons causing students success to suffer.
I do not have the answer to this but I am increasingly becoming more concerned for my profession. It seems that as no one is taking any strong stance to prevent it, education will hit its breaking point. And then what? For me, education has already gone past the point of no return and only a complete breakdown in the system will allow it to be rebuilt and reformed. For the sake of teachers and students across the country I hope I am wrong.