Teaching in England Interim Report: A comparative study of working conditions for state and independent school teachers

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This interim report presents the findings from an online questionnaire of 806 teachers in England. The data gathered here constitute the first phase of my PhD data collection. It explores teachers' working conditions in the state and independent schools sector in England. Specifically, it examines: teachers' working hours; the constitution of teachers' workload; accountability, and the sources and levels of teacher stress in relation to job satisfaction in a sample of teachers from each sector. The findings suggest that while the sampled teachers work similar hours in both sectors, there are significant differences in stress and job satisfaction with independent teachers reporting far higher levels of job satisfaction, and much lower levels of stress. Teachers' experiences of accountability measures also vary according to sector. The next phase of the project aims to further investigate the trends identified here, and identify the conditions that are optimal for teacher job satisfaction and by extension - retention, in both sectors.

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We analyse the role of private schools in the teachers' labour market. Private schools employ an increasingly-disproportionate share of teachers in Britain, relative to the number of their pupils. Their teachers are more likely than state school teachers to possess post-graduate qualifications, and to be specialists in shortage subjects. Recruitment from the state sector is an important and growing source of new teaching staff for private schools, and a small though increasing deduction from the supply of new teachers available to state schools. Private school teachers enjoy greater job satisfaction, work with fewer pupils, enjoy longer holidays and, in the case of women, shorter weekly hours. Among women, pay is lower in the private sector, which we interpret as a compensating differential. For men, there is no significant inter-sectoral difference in pay. However, for both men and women there is evidence of a substantial pay premium for private-school teachers trained in shortage subjects.
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A comprehensive survey of teacher stress, job satisfaction and career commitment among 710 full-time primary school teachers was undertaken by Borg, Riding & Falzon (1991) in the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo. A principal components analysis of a 20-item sources of teacher stress inventory had suggested four distinct dimensions which were labelled: Pupil Misbehaviour, Time/Resource Difficulties, Professional Recognition Needs, and Poor Relationships, respectively. To check on the validity of the Borg et al. factor solution, the group of 710 teachers was randomly split into two separate samples. Exploratory factor analysis was carried out on the data from Sample 1 (N = 335), while Sample 2 (N = 375) provided the cross-validational data for a LISREL confirmatory factor analysis. Results supported the proposed dimensionality of the sources of teacher stress (measurement model), along with evidence of an additional teacher stress factor (Workload). Consequently, structural modelling of the 'causal relationships' between the various latent variables and self-reported stress was undertaken on the combined samples (N = 710). Although both non-recursive and recursive models incorporating Poor Colleague Relations as a mediating variable were tested for their goodness-of-fit, a simple regression model provided the most parsimonious fit to the empirical data, wherein Workload and Student Misbehaviour accounted for most of the variance in predicting teaching stress.
Research Update 3: Is the Grass Greener Beyond Teaching?
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