Charge the price you are worth

1st December 2006 at 00:00
Jim Goodall is a retired science teacher from Torfaen

Teaching has for a long time been a graduate profession. I am not certain that teachers truly realise this - particularly where remuneration for extra services rendered is concerned. I want to try and shake them out of their lethargy, and persuade them that they should charge appropriately for their services.

Teachers can earn extra money by marking exam papers and private tutoring.

But they seem to be content to sell themselves short monetarily when carrying out these functions. They accept paltry amounts of money, way below a professional rate.

They certainly would not do this in their main job as they have demonstrated an admirable tenacity in progressing their pay by negotiating upper pay spine payments.

I can understand why teachers would want to make extra money, but surely they should not abase themselves in the way that they do? No wonder teachers are not viewed by the public to be as professional as doctors.

Have they no self respect? Can they truly say they are professional? Isn't that degree worth far more? Shouldn't all those years of studying be better rewarded?

Solicitors, doctors and others charge far more for their time, yet teachers meekly acquiesce in a system that consistently undervalues their services.

The point was reinforced for me recently when I had my car serviced. I was charged pound;50 per hour for the mechanic's time. No disrespect to the mechanic, but he does not have a degree. Neither has the floor tiler I employed recently, but he charged me pound;45 per hour for his time.

People sometimes ask me what would be the cost for private tutoring. When I tell them it's about pound;24 per hour there is a sharp intake of breath and an exclamation as to how expensive that is. These same people pay pound;50 per hour for the mechanic.

Teachers mark exam papers at about pound;1.50 per paper. Even if they can manage to mark 10 papers an hour, that is only pound;15 per hour - far less than my mechanic.

Teachers receive about pound;29.40 per hour for supply work. On upper pay spine 3, without TLR payments, they receive about pound;172 per day of five hours. Why, then, do they continue to sell themselves short when using their professional expertise in other situations?

I urge teachers not to do these other things until such time as appropriate remuneration, commensurate with their knowledge and expertise, is forthcoming.

Exams will still need to be marked. Imagine the chaos if all those public exam papers were not marked. Middle-class parents will still pay for private tutoring.

However, if some teachers continue to accept a rate far below a teacher's worth, then no progress will be made. It is time for teachers to unite and refuse to do these things until the professional rate for the job is forthcoming. Teachers' status in society will never be raised if they accept peanuts for their expertise.

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