Motivation is a key factor in maintaining a focused, high performing workforce. There are many different ways of motivating your workforce and each one works with varying degrees of success in different work places. For example a high paid executive would not be highly motivated by a small pay rise but, they may be much more interested in membership to a local golf club or a nicer office. This said, motivation is not all about paying your staff more or buying them things, in Australia teachers are given a year to travel after five years of working. I suppose this still costs money for the education board but it is not directly associated with the teacher.
Teachers do not earn huge amounts of money and therefore logic suggests that they would be more motivated by a pay rise than some other fringe benefits. Many teachers do not get a pay rise yet while working with primary school teachers, I saw that they still went about their jobs with great care and attention suggesting good motivation. Why should these teachers be so well motivated even if they don’t receive the benefits they should? I asked one of these teachers why her morale was so high. She explained to me that even though she was overworked and underpaid she found that the personal satisfaction gained from her work was enough to keep her happy. I think it might also have something to do with the working hours, which to me seem very good.
The average secondary school teacher ears about £18 500, which is not a very large amount of money considering rapidly escalating house prices. London is the most expensive place in Britain to live, especially in some of the nicer areas such as Mayfair or Chelsea. St. Albans is now also a very expensive part of the country to buy a house in. First time buyers have to earn £41 985 to get on the property ladder. Taking this into account, I was not surprised by the teacher strike earlier this year. Police officers receive an extra £5000 per year if they work in central London. Teachers also receive some extra money if they work in central London but the teachers working near to London receive very small amounts of money relative to the house prices. Teachers from in and around London took to the streets to protest about their poor pay.
The working conditions for the average teacher are not great: a classroom and maybe an office if they’re lucky. And there’s also the staff room at break, packed with frantic teachers attempting to do some last minute marking. Not my idea of a nice working environment. I think improvements in facilities would aid in teacher motivation. I decided to conduct some research into this and found that my suspicions were correct. Although I only asked six teachers, I think I got the same opinion from all of them and thought my time could be better spent writing more on this report than asking more teachers (I think its called the opportunity cost). My questionnaire is shown at the back of this piece. Although the main aim of my questionnaire is to find out if teachers think their working conditions are good, I have also gained some other relevant information, which will help me with my next few evaluations.
The conditions and pay for teachers is not great, but what can be done? Most of the teachers in my survey felt that more government funding would be needed to improve the situation. At the moment, teachers receive very little funding directly. The school gets the money but has no choice over how to spend it. The school has to buy exactly what the government tells them to get and cannot save any left over money. This means that teachers actually get very little say in what the school gets for them. The only way the school gets to choose what they get for themselves is through fundraising, which can only be done at certain times and generally involves some sort of sacrifice to be made by the school. I think that the government needs to wise up and allow public schools a bit more of a free rein on the money they are given.
Teachers in Britain do not get a very good deal when compared with teachers abroad. Teachers in other countries are more highly respected and receive better working conditions when compared with teachers in England. When you have taught for the state for five years in Australia, you get a years paid leave to travel, or do whatever you want. The same is true for most academics in Britain, so why not teachers. I am sure this would motivate more teachers to stay on for longer. At the moment quite a lot of people are leaving teaching and the shortages have been felt at many schools, mine included. If we are to keep our existing teachers, something has to be done about the situation.
Many teachers find it hard to get by on their basic salary. They are forced to find extra work and many of them turn to tutoring. Tutoring would be a natural choice for a teacher as it uses their existing skills but earns them much more money. Tutoring is not an easy job to get into and I think that should be changed. I think that teachers should organise their tutoring through the school that they work at or another school if they want. If pupils want a tutor, they should inquire through their school rather than ringing up a stranger. The teachers could even do their extra work in the school building if they wanted. This would save pupils going all the way to their houses and I know that some teachers live a long way away from school.
In closing, I have decided that although teachers in Britain receive poor pay and work in bad conditions, their personal satisfaction is enough to drive them on, But there are some things that could be done. Some of the things that I have mentioned require very little money but quite a lot of initiative. The government also has to be confident enough to change the system.