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Pay gap widens higher up the scale

Teachers and lecturers may start on an equal footing, but with progress comes disparity. George Wright reports

AS A head of department with 16 years' experience in further education, Rashpal Chana is typical of the thousands of experienced lecturers who are being tempted out of the FE sector by the higher pay on offer in schools.

While the recent pay deal between unions and colleges has raised lecturers' starting salaries above those of teachers, there is a huge pay gap higher up the scale.

This disparity, which is at the centre of FE's staffing crisis, is highlighted by comparing the salary of Mr Chan, a programme manager of life sciences at Sutton Coldfield college in the West Midlands with that of Stuart Archer, head of science at Pershore high school in Worcestershire.

The roles, responsibilities and working hours of the two are similar, yet one of them earns pound;6,000 more than the other.

Mr Chana, 40, is on point 17 of the lecturers' pay spine, with two Teaching Pay Initiative increments. His salary is pound;30,800 per annum. Mr Archer, 42, who has been teaching for 21 years, is on point two of the upper pay spine for teachers, with four extra responsibility points. He earns pound;36,500.

He has yet to decide whether to leave his job in pursuit of better pay, but Mr Chana told FE Focus that the potential increase is a constant temptation; indeed, the higher salary on offer in schools has already lured away many of his colleagues.

Mr Chana said: "I am in college at 9am and usually out by 5pm. I teach 22 hours a week and get three hours for my managerial role, although meetings and other duties usually take up much more time.

"I spend about an hour every night and time at weekends doing my class planning because there is no time during college hours.

"I haven't seriously looked at any jobs yet, but I am always thinking about a move to the schools sector. I have always been aware of the large salary gap.

"It makes it very difficult to recruit experienced lecturers. One of my key staff is about to leave to go to a local school where he will be earning a much better wage."

Mr Archer, who works from 8.30am until 4.30pm on most days, said he sympathised with his counterparts in FE colleges.

"School starts at 8.55am, but I am usually in at 8.20am for staff briefings or to do the rounds of the department, checking everything is okay and helping supply staff to settle in," he said.

"I have 30 periods to teach every week, plus non-contact time for meetings with senior management and other tasks.

"I have one or two evening meetings every week when I am in school till 5.20pm, but I am usually away by 4.30pm.

"I also do a couple of hours' work at home each night. But overall, because of the job satisfaction I get, I think I am paid reasonably well as a teacher.

"I don't know how it would compare with other professions or with FE lecturing. I am aware that FE lecturers get less, but I don't really know how big the difference is.

"It is hard to draw direct comparisons, but it seems unfair if two people are doing very similar jobs but getting very different salaries."

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