Activist of the year paved way for colleagues' golden hellos

28th March 2008 at 00:00
Among the grey beards and cardigans of many union delegates, the fresh face of Grainne McCay is easy to spot.

The 29-year-old from Northern Ireland was named as the NASUWT's young activist of the year for helping to change the rules on golden hellos for Scottish and Northern Irish-qualified teachers moving to England. Teachers who qualify there now receive the same payments of up to pound;5,000 when taking up jobs in shortage subjects.

Ms McCay raised the issue with Alan Johnson, the then education secretary, at last year's NASUWT conference in Belfast. Within two months he had been in touch to tell her the rules had been changed.

"Unfortunately it wasn't retrospective, so I still missed out on the money," the ICT teacher said. "But those who come behind me will be able to benefit."

Ms McCay taught for two years in Maidstone, Kent, before returning to her native County Tyrone last year, where she works as a supply teacher.

Her union recognition is part of a family tradition. Her mother Rosella is the Northern Ireland president, her father Aodh is the health and safety officer, and her sister Ciara is a member of the executive.

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