England’s teachers among the best paid for fewest hours in Europe

The latest survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has suggested that the teachers in England are among the highest paid for the fewest hours in Europe and the developed world. Data published by the OECD show that average salaries for experienced teachers in England are higher than in countries including Sweden, Switzerland, France and Finland.

However, teachers in most state schools in England are legally required to be at work and available for work for a maximum of 1,265 hours over 195 days of the year – lower than the requirements for any other developed nation which provided data to the OECD, except for Luxembourg.

OECD research showed that for teachers with 15 years’ experience, average pay for primary school teachers in 2020, when adjusted to account for purchasing power in different countries, is $54,889 (£44,557) in England – higher than the OECD average of $49,245 (£ 39,976) and the EU average of $49,022 (£39,795).

Teachers’ pay in England was higher than for counterparts in Italy ($39,563; £32,116), France ($40,043; £32,506) and Finland ($45,772; £37,156).

For secondary schools in England, average pay after 15 years was also $54,889, higher than the EU average of $53,273 (£43,245) and the OECD average of $53,268 (£43,241).

Prof Alan Smithers, the director of the Center for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, told The Telegraph: “I think it’s irresponsible for teachers to be pressing for big pay rises, given the financial circumstances of the country.

“Relatively speaking, they are well paid. They are not asking the Government for an increase.

“What they are requesting is that money from the taxes of people who are also struggling be transferred to them. I suspect there is a political dimension to these strikes.

“The heart of their job is the education of children, who have already suffered considerable disruption from the pandemic, and it seems irresponsible to me that they should want to impose further disruption on these young people’s lives.”

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“Strike action is despicable, iniquitous and inexcusable – and it’s very short-sighted and selfish. The solution is within the existing budget.”

Kevin Courtney, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, told the publication: “By any measure, teachers have had double-digit, deep and sustained real-terms pay cuts since 2010.

“If this were not the case, then the Government would not be failing to hit recruitment targets for training and we would not be seeing a third of teachers leaving within the first five years of qualifying.

“The OECD data appears to ignore the high levels of unpaid working hours which teachers work, and which devalues ​​their pay. Working weeks of 55-60 hours are typical for teachers in the UK.”

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