Teachers: What They Really Want Is...

Teachers: What They Really Want Is...
By David Westley
Do your children attend a UAE school? Take our survey and help other parents.
WhichSchoolAdvisor's annual school survey.
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Other articles in the survey:
UAE Teacher Turnover: Sky High – Or Just Average?
3 in 4 Teachers ‘Looking for New Job’
Revealed: How To Keep The Best Teachers
Teachers: What They Really Want Is…
Geography No Limit to UAE Teacher Ambition
British Teachers: Where is the Love?
American School Teachers: Over Sold by Over Here

 

If your school has difficulty retaining its best teachers, the WSA Teacher Survey can reveal the single biggest reason why: Money.

Almost 4 in 10 teachers (38%) told WSA that they are dissatisfied with their current salary in our latest survey, with an almost equal number neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.

These figures should be a wakeup call for any school in the emirates wanting to hang onto its top talent: An improvement in pay is the top choice given for being willing to stay in a teaching job (76.92%) after a contract has finished, and only behind career opportunity as something that can entice them to leave their current job.

With only a lucky 8.3% of teachers receiving a real salary increase last year, that teachers are dissatisfied, and largely move on after contracts come to an end is perhaps unsurprising. According to the WSA survey a further 16.1% of teachers did receive a pay rise but below inflation, while 15% got a pay rise at the inflation rate. The largest chunk of respondents, 44.74% of teachers, said they had no pay rise at all last year.

Teachers who did not get an increase would be approximately 4% worse of this year than last - the current rate of inflation. Exactly how much teachers will have felt this will have depended upon their package however. According to the UAE's National Bureau of Statistics housing and utility costs increased 8.4 percent last year, suggesting teachers with accommodation paid for may have been shielded from the hottest parts of the economy.

A significant percentage of teachers do benefit from some form 'expat salary package' and housing is its third most common constituent. Just under half (47.37%) of teachers that took part in the survey are given accommodation during their period of employment, with another 32.59% given a housing allowance.

The most common elements that form part of a teacher's total package are an annual air ticket and health insurance. However, employees are entitled to both of these under UAE labour, so that 37% of teachers do not get an air ticket, and 31.4% are not part of an insurance scheme suggest a significant number of teachers in the UAE are either new to the country, or more of a concern, not on full time, permanent contracts.

Other benefits include a furniture allowance (received by 21% of respondents), family health insurance (21%), family airline tickets (19.64%), and a Relocation Allowance (11.74%). Very few teachers get the likes of gym (2.43%) or club memberships (0.4%) that are used elsewhere to anchor top tier employees in the UAE for long term employment.

"All this is of concern," argues James Mullan, co-Founder of WhichSchoolAdvisor.com, "if only because there is increasing evidence that the quality of teachers is the single most important factor when it comes to raising education standards. We can see from the survey that teacher recruitment is an increasingly global marketplace and business, and teachers are very aware that there are opportunities around the world. The UAE needs to ensure it hangs onto the best and brightest."

According to OECD findings countries with the most effective education systems give teachers the status, pay and professional autonomy of senior professional employees. Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's special adviser on education, argues if school systems want to be competitive "they need to recruit - and reward - the right type of staff".

Pay scales globally vary significantly, with Luxembourg offering the highest average annual salaries (99,000 US dollars), followed by Germany (65,000 US dollars) for secondary school teachers with 10 years of experience. England is close to the OECD average (45,095 US dollars).

We cannot bench mark against that with our survey, however our survey does reveal pay scales in the UAE vary widely, and significant variations are found in curriculum, classification of the school (for example, value or premium), the age of the school, the length of a teacher's service, whether it is a profit or not for profit school and so on. In the broadest of brush strokes however the most common salary range given in the survey is from 16,000 to 20,000 AED (with 25% of respondents), which is a range of between 55,000 US dollars to 65,000 US dollars per annum. Given the UAE is also a tax free environment it does suggest UAE teachers are paid above average OECD rates.

Despite that it is clear that salary does not exist within a vacuum, and the UAE is an increasingly an expensive place to live and work. Private schools in the emirates will need to be increasingly innovative in pay and salary packages if they are to both retain their margins, while attracting the top tier talent they need to justify their fees - particularly in the UAE's growing number of premium schools.

"The fight for talent is not limited to the UAE - but increasingly its global, commented Mullan. "For that reason we expect to see ever more innovative solutions to this - like Arcadia's high-end apartment block it is building for its staff. It's only thinking like this that will enable for profit private schools achieve both the margins and pay back investors are ultimately looking for, with the standards of education parents paying increasingly hefty fees have a right to expect."

 

Other articles in the survey:
UAE Teacher Turnover: Sky High – Or Just Average?
3 in 4 Teachers ‘Looking for New Job’
Revealed: How To Keep The Best Teachers
Teachers: What They Really Want Is…
Geography No Limit to UAE Teacher Ambition
British Teachers: Where is the Love?
American School Teachers: Over Sold by Over Here

 

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