Private school staff are being hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis, according to a survey of almost 3,000 teacher and support staff working in independent schools.
The survey revealed that:
- More than a fifth of respondents working in private schools have had a pay freeze, with only 2 per cent receiving a salary increase to match inflation.
- One in ten teachers and one in seven support staff have taken on a second job.
- 68 per cent of support staff continue to be paid for term-times only.
Replying to the National Education Union’s 2023 Independent Sector Pay and Conditions Survey, 43 per cent of teachers stated that the cost-of-living crisis had affected their standard of living “a lot”.
A further 52 per cent replied that their standard of living had been adversely affected “a little”, with just 4 per cent saying “not at all”.
Support staff have been harder hit. More than half of all respondents (54 per cent) stated that the cost-of-living crisis was affecting them “a lot”, 42 per cent “a little”, and 4 per cent “not at all”.
Financial concerns are forcing independent school teachers and support staff to take on additional paid work to make ends meet.
A total of 29 per cent of teachers and 27 per cent of support staff members stated that they had taken on additional paid work.
Ten per cent of all teachers said that they had taken on a second job, 16 per cent additional private tuition, and 3 per cent overtime. For support staff, 14.3 per cent had taken on a second job; 5.2 per cent private tuition; and 7.4 per cent overtime.
The NEU survey, revealed during the union’s annual conference in Harrogate this week, suggests that the root of the problem is a significant gap between wage increases and inflation.
For the current academic year, September 2022 to August 2023, just 2 per cent of teachers and support staff working in independent schools received a cost-of-living increase that at least matched inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index September 2022.
The survey found that 25 per cent of support staff and 21 per cent of teachers working in private schools had their pay frozen.
The pay issues come as teachers in the independent sector face further woe as their employers continue to consider leaving the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS).
ISMP has recently reported on threatened strike action at independent schools, including Winchester College, where staff were recently awarded a 6.4 per cent pay rise, but could still strike over pensions.
Just over half of teachers (53 per cent) said that their employer currently offers TPS to existing and future staff, with 47 per cent saying that they did not.
Commenting on the survey results, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“This survey confirms the reach of the cost-of-living crisis on working people.
“The NEU is greatly concerned that our members working in the independent sector are being forced to take additional jobs. It is worrying that teachers and support staff, who already have heavy workloads in their main job, are unable to make ends meet.
“Independent school employers need to do better by their staff. We know from our previous annual surveys that pay awards in the sector have consistently failed to keep pace with inflation.
*The National Education Union survey of teacher members and support staff members working in the independent sector was conducted between March 6 to 30 2023. A total of 2,579 teachers responded and 412 support staff.