Today is World Teachers’ Day, where we celebrate our teaching professionals and commit to improving their skills and working lives. First celebrated in 1994, it commemorates the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers.
Teachers are the lifeblood of our country. Without teachers there would be no universities – or students to attend them or indeed doctors, nurses, and any other professionals. Every professional who has ever supported you, from dentists to accountants to grocers, will have been shaped in some way by their teachers.
The last year and a half have showed us more than ever that teachers are key workers, with all the risks involved.
We know that in some areas, schools had amongst the highest prevalence of Coronavirus cases and social distancing was all but impossible.
For long periods, teachers were working from home often or in work but preparing two sets of lessons for those self-isolating. Teachers play so many roles – they are – tutors, parents, carers, social workers, family support, providing food and clothing in some instances to the children they work with.
But we shouldn’t dismiss the fact that teachers’ conditions need to be improved. Looking at comparisons with other countries, U.K. teachers work between 50 and 70 hours per week despite only being employed for 32.5. A healthy work-life balance for teachers is vital for them to be able to do their job properly whilst having enjoyable lives as human beings.
Teachers also have increasingly high levels of formal accountability.
They are often held to account for the performance of pupils, despite the fact that performance is also impacted by factors way outside of their control, such as hunger, tiredness, family matters.
Our recent report, ‘The Future Of Education’, laid bare the challenges facing early years professionals. 22.39% of education and early years staff indicated that they plan to leave within the next three years. The primary reasons given for leaving the sector were the pressures that accompanied the role, high administrative workload and low pay.
The research also revealed that 78% of teachers believe that online learning increases the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged learners, only 38% of staff had been given appropriate training to prepare them for online learning and one in three were without the necessary equipment they needed to deliver online learning.
With the attainment gap growing, and an increasingly stretched workforce, there is a steep mountain ahead to climb. This World Teachers’ Day, it is on all of us to remember the vital role that our own teachers had on our lives, and work to ensure that they are able to continue support the next generation and future generations to come.