Zero-hours contracts are forcing me out of teaching

The Guardian has an eye-opening article, written anonymously by an FE teacher, about the impact of zero hours contracts on teachers in the sector…

I love teaching. It is what I was born to do. I’m a thirtysomething further education teacher with a first class degree, a PGCE, qualified teacher status and two subject specialisms, who has repeatedly been rated outstanding in my teaching.

I’m also a parent of a 15-year-old child with an autistic spectrum disorder and straight after I have written this piece, I will be leaving teaching.

I’m not unusual. I’ve been on zero-hours contracts for some time and it has finally got to me. I’m tired of thinking I’ve secured a future for me and my child, tired of thinking I won’t have to worry about whether we both eat or whether we have heating, tired of worrying how we will cope if my child loses their school coat. As I explained yesterday on 5Live, I’ve decided to leave teaching for a supermarket job that will give me the security of knowing how much I’ll have available to pay my bills each month.

Before the summer I regularly worked 30 contracted hours a week across three organisations, over seven days (remember, as a teacher, preparation and marking aren’t counted so this is, in reality, more like 60-80 hours). That was how much I needed to work to ensure I didn’t need to claim work-related benefits – which would bite at my pride too much. But despite being told I would most likely have teaching in September, the phone didn’t ring in August or September. I swallowed my pride, claimed benefit for four weeks and applied for everything. In November I got a full-time post on a zero-hours contract. Bit by bit this has been wheedled down to six hours. I am back where I started, and devastated…

The thing about zero-hours contracts is that they’re normal. You can dress them up in all kinds of fancy language, but however you finesse it, in my personal experience, most FE employers use them for most of their staff…

Zero-hours contracts are inhuman. They stop people planning for their futures and leave them in a state of perpetual fear. They encourage people to become workaholics and damage family life. And imagine the cost to society…

More at: Zero-hours contracts are forcing me out of teaching


How widespread do you believe zero hours contracts are in the FE sector and how, when confronted with the reality of fluctuating student numbers, can the situation be improved? Please give us your insights in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Employment and Further Education.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove This is a really disturbing but I imagine increasingly common situation in FE and HE. Not good at all

  2. Graham_IRISC

    sputniksteve of course there are but I have increasing concern how SOME FE lectures are treated by SOME colleges.

  3. Janet2

    Zero hours contracts not confined to FE.  Michael Wilshaw when he was head of Mossbourne said his staff were on ‘zero hours contracts’.  See here:

    Remember, academies and free schools can set their own terms and conditions.  Existing schools which convert are bound by TUPE regs for existing staff but these don’t apply to new staff.  There’s nothing to stop academies putting new staff on ‘zero hours’ and there is a high-profile precedent in the shape of the Chief HMI.

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