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What Makes Teachers Keep Teaching? 5 of the Most Rewarding Things about Being a Teacher

14 August 2019

stack of books with apple on top


It’s almost impossible to avoid the frequent news headlines about the national shortage of teachers. A high number of people are leaving the profession or plan to do so within the next two years. The government is also struggling to recruit a sufficient number of new teachers to keep up with the growing school population. However, 60% of teachers remain in the profession for over five years, which could be viewed favourably at a time when the cultural norm is for individuals to pursue multiple careers in their working lives. 

In a recent Teacher Tapp survey, even teachers who are experiencing high levels of work-related stress often feel that the job is worth it. So what makes that 60% of teachers keep teaching? We look at five of the rewards of being a teacher.



  • A Sense of Achievement



When we asked Teacher Tappers if their work gives them the feeling that they can achieve something, 62% responded “Always” or “Often”. Only 1% of those polled said they “never” feel this sense of achievement.

teacher survey - sense of achievement

Helping the next generation learn to read or supporting them to overcome academic and social difficulties can be challenging yet incredibly rewarding. Teachers have the chance to make a difference in their students’ lives. Unlike some other professions, the fruits of your labour as a teacher are highly visible, which is extremely motivating. Teachers who feel a sense of achievement are more likely to report the highest morale.



  • Positive Work Relationships



Teaching can be very rewarding, but it can also be a challenging and stressful job, as we all know. Perhaps due to the high-stress situations many teachers find themselves in or because of the level of responsibility they feel for their pupils, school staff often form stronger bonds than those in other workplaces.


When presented with the statement, “I really like the people I work with” in a Teacher Tapp survey, 96% of participants responded that this is “very true” (58%) or “somewhat true” (43%). Only 3% felt that this is “not at all true”.

teacher survey - I really like the people I work with

Just 1% of teachers polled felt that they can “never” count on their colleagues for support in bad times.

teacher survey - can you count on your colleagues

Many professionals may find their work stressful, but having a reliable support network of colleagues can be the difference between career success and burning out. 



  • Good Pay and Benefits



Most people would prefer a higher salary if it were on offer and teachers are no different. But compared to other professions, teachers have a competitive salary and job security, with annual increases for length of service and generous benefits, such as long holidays and excellent pension packages.


The pay caps that were first introduced in 2010 have now been lifted and teachers received a pay rise of up to 3.5 per cent in September 2018. Those who were less than 10 years’ away from their National Pension Age on 1 April 2012 will not be entitled to a final salary pension, but the “career average” scheme is still generous when compared to pension packages offered to individuals in other professions. From September 2019, the employer contribution will rise from 16.48% to 23.68% for those in the teaching profession, which equates to an increase of more than 40%. Add 13 weeks of paid holiday (the average for state schools in the UK) and it’s not hard to see how rewarding the teaching package of pay and benefits can be.


A recent Teacher Tap survey revealed what teachers make of their salaries. The majority of teachers polled are relatively satisfied with their income. When asked, “Can you live comfortably on your pay?”, 27% of people responded “always” and “32%” felt that they “often” can. Only 8% said they “never” felt this is true.

teacher survey - can you live comfortably on your pay


It’s also clear that many people see their holiday time as an important reward, which is not surprising when school teachers work an average of 59.3 hours (Primary) and 55.7 hours (Secondary) per week during the school year. 36% of teachers surveyed by Teacher Tapp said they would be “very likely” to leave the profession if their 13 weeks of holiday time were reduced to 8 weeks. 

teacher survey - reduced entitlement causing to leave job


  • Career-Long Learning Opportunities



For teachers, training and learning do not stop once NQT status has been achieved. There are plenty of opportunities for talented teachers with the ambition to climb the career ladder. Undertaking Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is an expected part of a teacher’s role. High school teachers can develop their own understanding of the subject they are passionate about while sharing their knowledge with young people. All qualified teachers have the chance to engage in ongoing training that enables them to develop their skills and either excel as a classroom teacher or progress to the next level.


One in three Teacher Tappers engages in professional development every week, while only 10% receive CPD solely through INSET (IN-SErvice Training) days.

teacher survey - taking part in professional development session

Many professionals in other sectors can only dream of having so much time to devote to professional development. 



  • Fun and Unexpected Rewards



Teaching can be fun. Despite complaints about the constraints of the National Curriculum, Ofsted requirements, teaching to the test and much more, those in teaching jobs have a lot more freedom to shape their role and be creative than employees in many other professions. 


In every age and subject group, more than half of all teachers polled by Teacher Tapp allow their pupils to do an “out-of-the-ordinary-fun-only activity” on the last day of term before the Christmas holiday.

teacher survey - letting students do fun activities on last day

Almost half of Teacher Tappers (48%) had also worn a Christmas jumper to work “at least once”. 


Teachers receive a bounty of thank-you gifts from pupils at the festive time of year. For many, this goes well beyond “an apple for the teacher”. 66% of teachers received gifts, with primary school teachers receiving a bumper crop. However, there were differences between schools in different socio-economic areas.

teacher survey - gifts received from students

Why Is It So Important that Teachers Feel Rewarded by Their Work?


Feeling valued and enjoying a rewarding career is crucial to maintaining teacher morale, which, in turn, affects performance and results. With a high number of people choosing to leave the profession or feeling dissuaded from joining it, ensuring that good teachers have a high level of job satisfaction is more important than ever.


What are the rewards of teaching for you? What makes you stay even when your days become challenging? Have your say by downloading the Teacher Tapp app and joining the thousands of teachers who take part in our teacher surveys every day.