Teachers feel they are not paid enough, study shows

They are also fed up with endless bureaucracy

Teachers say they have little opportunity for advancement. Photo: Shutterstock

Teachers say they have little opportunity for advancement. Photo: Shutterstock

Nearly all the teachers participating in a study about their challenges do not feel they earn an adequate income compared to their workload and skills.

The authors of Teachers’ Professional Lives and Careers, Michelle Attard Tonna and James Calleja, note that teachers have little opportunity for advancement and vertical mobility.

Many of them – 94 per cent of the teachers participating in the study – do not feel they earn an adequate income, “while their prestige is damaged by the sense of a lack of respect which is often directed at teachers”.

The study was carried out when the government and the Malta Union of Teachers were in discussions on a collective agreement, which was signed in December. This provoked the creation of a new union for educators amid disagreement over what the MUT had accepted.

READ: Majority of teachers would quit classroom if they get another career opportunity

The authors refer to the sectoral agreement, which they say signifies an increase in class allowances for teachers. However, the increase can only be said to be significant for those with over 20 years of experience.

“Attracting new teachers to the profession and retaining the exceptional ones will also require a tangible raise in current pay and allowances, adequate working conditions and an assurance that what they are required to do in class is met with support structures, both within the school and beyond, that encourage these teachers to keep doing what they like best: teaching.”

In a context where teaching is not necessarily a mark of high social esteem, the authorities will find it challenging to recruit high-quality teachers, the authors note. It is therefore important that the government provides a career path with clear criteria for promotion that will positively impact job satisfaction.

“Without job satisfaction, the best teachers will continue to leave teaching, compromising quality education.”

In all, out of the 1,019 respondents, 768 came from State schools and 803 were women. Most of them (414) had between 11 and 20 years of experience, and 234 respondents had 21 years in the field or more.

Among other questions, survey participants were asked whether they were following a course or a learning experience for their own professional development.

In their role educating teachers, the authors expressed concern that the majority of the respondents (67 per cent) were not partaking in some form of professional development.

“We believe that the way schools organise and manage teacher professional learning, support new teachers and enable informal learning to take place can be highly influential in a teacher’s attempt to engage in professional development experiences,” they said.

In their own words

“I am happiest in the classroom. Yet, the endless bureaucracy, half-hearted changes done for the sake of the person in charge and decisions made by non-teachers are getting to me” – teacher.

“With four schemes of work I spend most of my time compiling notes, handouts and tests and correcting homework. I also have a part-time job, as the pay is not enough. Investing in my professional development is not a priority” – educator.

“I am overloaded with work in my current role and dedicate the little time left to my family” – head of department.

“I love the subject I teach and wanted to share my knowledge with students. However, as time passes, with the students we have at school and the lack of discipline, my motivation is unfortunately decreasing” – teacher.

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