'I can't buy a house. I'll have to find a girlfriend'

9th December 2005 at 00:00
Varndean school is an11-16 comprehensive in central Brighton. Property prices in the area have rocketed to London levels, but teachers are paid at the standard national rate.

All the teachers complained about the cost of living and senior staff in particular felt that their higher salaries did not reflect massively increased responsibilities.

Comparisons were made with the private sector, and staff pointed to stress and their huge workload. Those with families said childcare in Brighton was as expensive as London.

Jen Bull is a newly-qualified science teacher on M2 of the main scale, meaning she earns pound;20,676. This will rise to pound;22,899 next year as she moves to M3. She described her pay as "all right," but was concerned at the amount eaten up in rent.

Paul Robinson, promoted this term to deputy head of maths, earns pound;25,953 (M5 on the spine), plus allowances. When he moves to M6 next year, he will earn a total of pound;31,013.

He is happy with his salary. "It is much better than in my previous job as a civil engineer. " But he added: "I can't buy a house as a single person.

I will have to find a girlfriend."

John Lamb, head of science, regularly works a 10 or 11-hour day. He earns pound;30,339 (U1 on the upper scale), plus around pound;8,000 for his four management points. This will go up to pound;31,098 plus around pound;8,200. Mr Lamb, who has a five year-old son, said : "I moved out of teaching in central London because of financial pressures, and now I could be driven out of central Brighton.

"I love what I do, but not the bureaucracy. If I were not typing my own worksheets I could spend more time supporting other teachers ."

Simon Liley is a new deputy head who tries to keep his hours to 55 a week, but works many Sundays. He earns pound;51,807 (L19 on the leadership spine), which rises to pound;53,103 next year. He said: "The level of accountability is massive. I'm responsible for 70 staff and 1,250 kids. As head of science, I was in charge of only seven staff and one tenth of the curriculum."

Andy Schofield has been head of Varndean for six years, and earns around Pounds 70,000. "The salary does not reflect the responsibility," he said.

"I don't think heads have ever had a term like this one."

"In the private sector, given this level of responsibility, I would be on a lot more. People have very little idea what this job involves. I don't think pay is the major issue. It is the constant demands and relentless pressure."

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