So, it is one per cent, then. The latest pay rise. We can expect the pubs to be full of celebrating teaching professionals on Friday night.
Or, in real terms a two per cent pay cut.
Another heartfelt thank you to the teaching professionals. A thank you for working endless hours, facing intense pressure from external inspections, being the whipping boy of professions, facing hyper critical parents, difficult children, physical danger and little in the way of a thank you for all that is done.
Or maybe teaching professionals should be noble in the face of adversity, taking the hit for being a part of the austerity measures to get the country back on its feet, and through what will be undoubtedly a difficult time negotiating our way around Brexit?
When you consider the jobs that teaching professionals could have gone into, and how much better their monetary return would be, it is not a surprise if recruitment is difficult for Headteachers.
In the old days, the salary was compensated for by a great pension – this is still good, but who knows in what condition it will be by the time the twenty somethings get to retire. And the long holidays – detractors always try to throw that one in the face of teachers, but those in the profession know how much time is spent on preparation during these breaks.
Believe it or not, the following jobs all pay more than the average teacher’s salary.
Chief executives – fair enough
Pilots – this too seems reasonable
PR people – yes, well, we can suppose that these are good at promoting themselves
Doctors – again, most would see this as acceptable.
But then we start to get to some jobs that are hard to see as more worthwhile than teaching.
Low ranking police officers
Rail construction operatives
In fact, in a recent study of the jobs offering the top 145 salaries teaching came in 49th. The list excluded glamour positions such as professional sportsmen and those in the entertainment industry.
Mind you, it is probably a good thing that teaching professionals earn such a moderate salary. After all, education funding is approaching the state where schools will not be able to afford many teachers.
Earlier this year the National Governors’ Association claimed that funding was already not enough to properly educate our children.
Then, the Institute for Fiscal Studies calculated that, for the first time for twenty years, spending on schools would drop, in real terms.
And that would not be a small drop, but a whopping 6.5% over the next five years.
The cuts are stopping teachers from doing their jobs properly, or so they feel. And for highly qualified and skilled professionals, there are plenty of other opportunities out there for a better paid and more respected career path to be chosen.
Further bad news for spending came when, earlier in the year, the National Audit Office said that money was being diverted away from existing schools to promote the Free Schools Programme.
Of course, the Government claim that money is ring fenced for education.
So, how do schools cope? It is extremely difficult for headteachers. They really have only three options:
- To cut staffing – already support staff levels are lower in many schools, meaning that teaching support is inadequate
- To replace expensive staff with cheaper alternatives – whilst it is good to get new ideas into the profession, there has to be a balance in this with experience. A lot of the learning new staff experience comes from the advice of older colleagues, who have developed tricks for coping with parents, tricky pupils and increasing workloads.
- To make cuts elsewhere – but this is not really a solution as even the best teachers will struggle without adequate resources.
It has to be concluded that schools are facing a double threat with staffing at the moment.
Firstly, they cannot recruit teachers because they do not have the funds to do so.
Secondly, they cannot retain teachers because working conditions and salaries mean that alternative employment is just too tempting.
And we all know who will end up suffering the most, don’t we? Yes, it will be the students in our schools.