Teachers are being forced to take second jobs, including driving taxis, bar work and private tutoring, in order to pay bills and eat, headteachers and unions warned last week.
The NASUWT teachers’ union has found that one in 10 teachers now have a second or even third job because their teaching pay doesn’t cover their monthly outgoings. With teachers resorting to school food banks, heads are warning that the recent 5% pay rise will still leave many unable to manage basic living costs.
Garry Ratcliffe, chief executive of the Galaxy Trust, which runs nine schools in Kent, said: “At one of my schools, as well as those doing private tutoring, I’ve got a teacher who has to dance at the weekend in a Greek restaurant, a teacher working as a farm hand, and one doing shifts in a bar.”
Ratcliffe said they weren’t doing second jobs to fund extras such as holidays, but “to keep eating”. He added that this school was running a food bank for pupils’ families, but had also introduced an emergency free food cupboard in the staff room too.
“It’s there for staff in need to take food without judgment. That cupboard has to be refilled every day.”
Ratcliffe’s trust recently conducted a staff wellbeing survey across all its schools, which showed that teachers’ inability to manage their living costs was starting to seriously affect their mental health and happiness at work.
He said: “They are worrying about money, there is a greater reliance on public transport as some can’t afford to run their cars. This is about working to survive, not working to thrive.”
Patrick Roach, general secretary of NASUWT, said that despite coping with “unprecedented workloads”, more teachers were having to take on extra work outside school, including “precarious gig economy work”, such as delivery to cope with rising costs.
“Our members say they are burnt out from working harder for less, with many barely scraping by and considering how much longer they can afford to keep teaching,” he said.
A survey of teachers’ wellbeing, due to be published on Tuesday by the charity Education Support, will show that stress is at crisis proportions and more than half of educators have been looking to leave their job.
Sinéad Mc Brearty, the mental health charity’s chief executive, said that her organisation has had to double the amount of hardship grants it gives out to teachers this year. “Now the biggest reason for support is buying food,” she said. “We’re also supporting them with rent or mortgage payments, bills and travel to work.”
Oliver Taylor, a physics teacher at a community school in south London, fixes people’s cars and does private tutoring in order to pay his bills.
“My salary makes me feel totally undervalued,” he said. “I’m a really good teacher and I’m teaching a subject where there are huge shortages, and I just don’t earn enough to make ends meet.”
Taylor lives alone and says his rent takes half of his monthly pay cheque. He has had to increase his work outside school to manage rising costs. “I chose to work in a challenging school, and it feels good being there. But it’s hand to mouth all the time.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said the government had “confirmed the highest pay awards for a generation” this year, including a rise of 8.9% for new teachers. She added: “We understand the pressures many teachers, like the rest of society, are facing at the moment due to the challenge of high inflation.”