3.5 Teachers’ employment and working conditions
A teacher policy should strive to establish the most conducive working (teaching/learning) environment for motivating individual teachers and the school team to achieve three simultaneous and interacting goals:
- Produce the highest levels of professional teaching and job satisfaction
- Focus on core teaching and learning responsibilities
- Maximize teacher effectiveness, measured by learning achievements or outcomes.
A number of principles should guide policy on education working environments:
- The work of professional teachers is enhanced by the provision of a supportive working environment in which:
- Teachers are able to work autonomously
- Their responsibilities are clearly delineated
- Management/supervision strikes a balance between respect for teacher autonomy and fulfilment of their responsibilities to learners.
- Teachers will provide a high level of professional service based on policies they help design, implement and evaluate
- Teachers are able to foster the best learning environment for students and help achieve the highest learning outcomes if they are provided the time and support to engage in:
- Collegial activities within the school team
- Appropriate and regular interaction with students and parents
- Professional development and other reflective activities as a regular part of their professional activities.
In accordance with international standards, policy on teacher working conditions should be established in consultation or negotiation with teacher union representatives – also a key factor in improving learning quality (ILO/UNESCO, 1966; ILO, 2012; OECD, 2005; UNESCO, 2014a).
Employment and working conditions have a strong impact on the perceived status of the teaching profession, on the profession’s ability to attract and retain high-quality candidates, and on teacher motivation, morale and profession satisfaction (see, for example, Bennell, 2004; Bennell and Akyeampong, 2007; Mulkeen, 2010; Mulkeen and Chen, 2008; VSO, 2002 and 2008; UNESCO, 2010a).The working conditions that affect positively or negatively teachers’ motivation and morale, as well as attraction, retention and commitment, include:
- Hours of work, workload and work-life balance
- Class sizes and PTRs
- School infrastructure
- Availability and quality of teaching and learning materials
- Student behaviour and discipline
- School violence
- Autonomy and control.
Leave terms and access to part-time teaching within a diversified career structure
3.5.1 Hours of work, workload and work-life balance