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  • Writer's pictureTom Hopkins-Burke

The Weekly Review on Teachers Talk Radio: 3 March 2024

Missed the Teachers Talk Radio Weekly Review - the show where we review the week in education? Catch up with the headlines and the discussion here...


This Sunday's Weekly Review centred on teacher happiness, 'sustainable' pay rises and shorter summer holidays. Lucy Neuburger was joined by a panel of Maxine Howells, Lianne Lax and John Gibbs to review the week in education.

The Weekly Review panel of Lucy Neuburger, Maxine Howells, Lianne Lax and John Gibbs


Working Lives of teachers and leaders: wave 2 summary report

"There are 14 people on the DfE's workload reduction taskforce. But just one of them is a classroom teacher" Lianne Lax on the Weekly Review

The DfE's latest 'Working Lives of Teachers and Leaders' report has revealed that 36 per cent of teachers and school leaders in state schools were considering leaving the education profession over the next 12 months - up from 25 per cent the previous year.

The main factor driving this potential exodus is high workload, with 94 per cent of those looking to leave said it was an important factor. 84 per cent said poor well-being was an important factor.

63 per cent said that dissatisfaction with pay was an important factor, although the survey was carried out before teaching unions and the government agreed a 6.5 per cent pay rise for teachers.

The DfE considered responses from more than 10,000 school staff, along with 442 people who had left the profession. Job satisfaction for those who had left teaching was 68 per cent - significantly higher than job satisfaction for those remaining in schools, which was just 17 per cent.

The report also revealed:

  • 75 per cent of teachers said they spent too much time on communication, paperwork and work emails

  • 62 per cent of senior leaders said they spent too much time on responding to government policy - down from 67 per cent in 2022

  • 63 per cent of teachers and leaders said their job negatively impacted their mental health - up from 56 per cent in 2022

  • 44 per cent of teachers and leaders said they felt 'highly anxious' the day before they were surveyed

  • 61 per cent of teachers and leaders said their manager was considerate of their work-life balance

  • 12 per cent of teachers and leaders believed that the teaching profession was valued by society - and just 4 per cent said teachers were valued by policymakers

What did our panel make of the latest findings?

Maxine Howells

"It's not surprising but very shocking. Teachers and leaders are not feeling valued. Research shows that leaders that take time off work [the night before] are better in their role. If we take that well-being time, we are better in our jobs. Something needs to change to give leaders a chance."

Lianne Lax

"The workload reduction taskforce talks about marking and planning, but the workload for me is all the extra bits. The view on workload ought to change. There are 14 people on the taskforce - but just one is a classroom teacher!"

John Gibbs

"One of the delights of being retired is you can look back and see the broad outlines. Workload up; valuation of teachers down. That process is coming home to roost. The Get Into Teaching ads should be a 35-minute video of teachers marking in their classroom while the sun goes down."


Struggling with the daily grind? Check out the Well-being and Workload Collection!

Scrablle tiles saying "life", "family", "balance", "career" and "work".

Collections are groups of four shows from the TTR archives grouped around a particular domain specialism. Our Collection on well-being and workload contains the following:

More than cupcakes: How can school well-being strategies go beyond lip service and turn the tide on the recruitment and retention crisis? Nathan Gynn is joined by Nadirah Khan.

The importance of rest: Maxine Howells explores the seven types of rest and how busy teachers can make sure they get enough rest.

Work-life balance: Hannah Wilson is joined by her own sister to discuss the work-life balance (or teachers' lack of it). How do you prioritise your own mental health without guilt?

Reducing teacher workload: Tom Hopkins Burke is joined by guests including Sam Strickland to discuss the DfE's Workload Reduction Task Force and what its priorities should be, plus Tom looks at the history of workload reduction since 2016 and asks: will anything actually be done to reduce teachers' workloads?


Education Secretary Gillian Keegan

"What does a 'more sustainable' level of teacher pay mean? That links to school funding. Inflation is still at 4%, so a pay rise of 1.2% is not enough" Maxine Howells on the Weekly Review

The Department for Education has told the School Teachers Review Body that teacher pay awards should return to a "more sustainable level" compared to the previous two years.

Schools will be expected to raise overall spending by up to 1.2 per cent, based on DfE analysis of school budgets. Any pay rise is expected to be in the region of between 1 and 2 per cent, which will alarm teachers' unions who have already raised concerns that education ministers are seeking to "constrain" the STRB in its recommendations.

The DfE has also called for the STRB to explore the possibility of paying teachers of STEM subjects more compared to teachers of other subjects.

While the DfE has pointed out that teachers' average pay has risen by over 12 per cent in the past two years, its evidence failed to note that teacher pay growth in England between 2010 and 2020 was an international outlier: the lowest of the OECD countries.

What did our panel have to say on the teacher pay review process?

John Gibbs

"The funding of schools isn't evenly distributed. In poorer areas, pay rises of teachers mean fewer resources for schools. As a society we need to stand up and say that we CAN afford a teacher pay rise."

Lianne Lax

"It all seems to be about enticing teachers into the profession at the moment. But is money the right way? We want more people in STEM jobs, but Reception teachers teach students to read. Who is more important?"

Maxine Howells

"What does a 'more sustainable' level of teacher pay mean? That links to school funding. Inflation is still at 4%, so a pay rise of 1.2% is not enough. We have bursaries for STEM subjects, but nothing for primary. My respect for primary teachers over the last 25 years has gone through the roof."


Check out our latest show on teacher pay...

A post-it note with the word "salary" on it

Listen back on demand to Education Tonight from 18 February as Brent Poland and Adam Spence explore whether the recruitment and retention crisis means teachers now have more power than before to negotiate better pay, terms and conditions.


Nuffield Foundation logo

"There's a debate about the summer holidays. But why are we asking this? Because after the six-week break, students come back forgetting what they know" John Gibbs on the Weekly Review

A new report by the Nuffield Foundation will recommend that England introduce shorter summer holidays and longer half-term breaks to improve the lives of pupils and teachers.

The report, to be published next month, will suggest that summer holidays in state schools be reduced from six weeks to four, while half-term breaks in October and February should be extended from one week to two.

Lee Elliot Major, professor of social mobility at the University of Exeter and one of the report's authors, said reforming the academic calendar in England would be an effective and low-cost way of tackling the educational divides that have grown since the pandemic.

Several school trusts and local authorities in England have already introduced a two-week autumn half-term break, or have incorporated staff training days into one week instead of being spread across the year.

Meanwhile, the Welsh government has proposed cutting the summer break to five weeks from 2025-26, with a longer half-term in autumn.

Our audience shared their thoughts on the Nuffield Foundation's proposals...

What did our panelists have to say on this?

Lianne Lax

"I enjoy the summer holidays - I teach 5-year-olds! You'd be hard-pressed to find teachers who don't use that summer holiday to work or set up for the next year. If I'm not in, I'll be at home planning, or thinking about planning. If you give us four weeks [in the summer] it will be more like three. There's behaviour issues after every holiday - whether it's six weeks or one."

Maxine Howells

"There are some real positives [to changing the holiday structure]. We know that planning is better if we're planning in regular five or six week blocks. The six week break is magical and fairly unique to teaching - and a great incentive for support staff. But there's coming in for exams, development work for senior leaders - and that will need to change if we shorten the summer holiday."

John Gibbs

"There's a debate about the summer holidays. But why are we asking this? Because after the six-week break, students come back forgetting what they know. If we cram less and reform the exams system, some of these things wouldn't matter as much."


Lee Elliot Major has appeared on Teachers Talk Radio: listen back on demand...

Equity in Education: levelling the playing field of learning.  Lee Elliot Major in conversation with Nathan Gynn

Equity in Education sets out a new equity-based approach in education to help teachers improve the prospects of under-resourced and working-class pupils. This show is brought to you in partnership with John Catt Educational.


Want to listen to the discussion in full? Catch up with the full show, plus a message from our sponsors John Catt Educational, here. Use the code JCTTR2324 for 20% off at - happy reading!

A graphic for our sponsors John Catt: educational publishers since 1959.

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