Compensate teachers in England for inability to work from home, report says

<span>Unlike the 50% of graduates in other professions who regularly work from home, most teachers are tied to the classroom.</span><span>Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA</span>
Unlike the 50% of graduates in other professions who regularly work from home, most teachers are tied to the classroom.Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

Teachers should be given a pay bonus to compensate for their inability to work from home and stop the rising numbers attracted away from the classroom for better working conditions elsewhere, according to a report.

The research by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) found that very few teachers in England were able to work remotely, putting them at a disadvantage compared with the nearly 50% of their peers in other graduate-level professions who say they regularly do.

The report said politicians should introduce a “frontline workers pay premium” to compensate teachers and other public sector workers for what it called “the lack of remote and hybrid working opportunities in their jobs compared to the wider graduate labour market”.

Related: Record numbers of teachers in England quitting profession, figures show

For teachers, the NFER estimated that the premium should be equivalent to a 1.8% pay rise.

Jack Worth, the NFER’s lead researcher on school workforce, said: “Teacher supply is in a critical state that risks the quality of education that children and young people receive. We urge the current government to take action to improve teacher recruitment and retention, and the political parties to develop long-term plans for after the election.”

The recommendation came as the NFER’s review of the school workforce found that teachers were working longer hours because of pupil behaviour and lack of specialist support. Last year 57% of teachers said they spent “too much time on behaviour incident follow-up”, compared with 50% the year before.

The report also sounded the alarm over the continuing failure to recruit more new teachers into the profession, with the NFER forecasting that the government will miss its own teacher recruitment targets in 10 out of 17 subject areas, in particular business studies, physics, music and computing.

Worth said teachers in England should get a 3.1% rise in the current pay round to keep pace with pay in other professions and improve recruitment and retention. “This needs to be accompanied by a long-term strategy to improve the competitiveness of teacher pay while crucially ensuring schools have the funds to pay for it,” Worth said.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, described the NFER’s report as “bleak”, showing teachers working longer hours for lower pay than graduates in other jobs.

“Society cannot function without teachers and we currently have a critical shortage in our schools and colleges. It is high time the government gave this crisis the attention it warrants,” Barton said.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said there were now more teachers working in state schools in England than ever before, and that last year’s pay rise of 6.5% was the largest for 30 years.

The spokesperson added: “We are taking steps to support [teachers] wellbeing and ease workload pressures, which includes plans to support schools to reduce working hours for teachers and leaders by five hours per week.”