Grade 11 teacher Annette teaches English to her students  at Nor
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Can you keep teachers in schools by paying them more?

The UK government tries to fix the shortage of teachers by raising the minimum starting salary to £30,000.

You’d struggle to find an economist who thinks an economy can flourish without teachers. After all, school is where we (hopefully) learn many of the skills that make us into productive workers and well-rounded adults; skills like reading and writing and playing nice with others.

So it’s a bit of a problem that the UK is really struggling to (a) persuade people to become teachers, and (b) keep those who do become teachers from quitting. England and Wales have missed their new teacher targets for the last six years, and half of all teachers quit the profession within a decade. The shortage is particularly bad in poorer areas of the country (which hurts social mobility, as better teachers usually equal better grades) and for core subjects like maths and science.

But the government thinks it has come up with a solution: upping teacher starting salaries. These are going to go up from £23,720 (for everywhere outside of London) to £30,000. That's better than many other graduate jobs, where the average pay was £25,104 this year. And as strategies go, increasing wages seems like a good bet, because many people put a heavy emphasis on money-making when deciding which jobs to apply for.

But money is far from the only thing most employees care about. And when teachers quit, many of them cite overwork, not underpay, as their main reason for bailing. Despite those long holidays, teaching compares pretty unfavourably with other jobs for hours worked: 89 percent of teachers work more than the average full-time employee. (Who the Office of National Statistics reckons clocks in 37 hours a week.)

Long work hours takes a toll on people’s mental and physical health and means less time to spend with loved ones, on hobbies, or taking care of themselves. Unsurprisingly, many workers aren’t into this. One study found that well over half of young people would take a substantial pay cut for a better work-life balance. All of which suggests higher salaries may not be enough to fix Britain’s teacher-shortage problem.

Read our explainer on: wages.

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