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Cultivez votre jardin, Anon

I have just read the FEFocus letter regarding the respective hourly rates of FE college lecturers and gardeners. The anonymous letter-writer appeared to be complaining about being paid less than a labourer.

Having worked as a gardener, and currently as a teacher's assistant in a secondary school, I have two points to make that may interest "Anon".

First, in all the time I worked as a gardener, I never met one who earned anywhere near pound;15 (net) per hour. The actual average was closer to pound;5 (gross) per hour.

Second, and more importantly, "Anon" should be aware that there is a need for a wide range of skills in a modern society, and, whether those skills are manual or academic, they are nonetheless worthy or valuable. The fact that "Anon" chose to lecture rather than "dig and prune" is, I assume, a personal choice. The gardener may nothave been able to make such a choice.

"Anon" would do well to have an equal regard for other people's skills and to respect their value and place in society. In my view, and in my experience, there is nothing - except perhaps snobbery and arrogance - to suggest that an FE lecturer's role in the overall scheme of things is any more valuable (or is worth more per hour) than that of a gardener. "Anon" probably thinks that a lecturer should be paid more than a teacher's assistant. My advice to "Anon": Don't try saying that when standing next to a teacher's assistant who has just had a demanding day in a class of Year 10s with severe behavioural problems.

And the pay of a teacher's assistant is a little over pound;5 per hour . . . gross.

Martin Southwell

49 Skiddaw Close

Black Notley

Braintree, Essex

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