No monopoly on poor pay

28th February 2003 at 00:00
I read with interest the report on teachers' salaries (TES, February 14).

Having worked in a large secondary for more than 14 years I have every sympathy with teachers, and know that most deserve every penny.

However, some thought should also be given to people like me: the army of non-teaching professionals working in schools.

I am a chartered librarian, with a degree in addition to my professional qualification and more than 30 years' experience in public, special, college and school libraries. My job involves supervision of sixth-form students all day, every day, promoting reading development, supporting teachers in as many ways as I can.

At lunch times I am solely responsible for up to 80 pupils at a time - disciplining them, maintaining a safe environment, helping them to find the information they need for homework, or just "a good book to read".

I have a team of 20 pupil assistants, who are all trained and supervised by me as they gain useful skills for their future lives.

Then there is controlling a budget, selecting and maintaining appropriate stock and caring for the fabric of the library building and so on. Like teachers my day begins early; there is usually a queue outside the library when I arrive just after 8am. It ends around 5pm, or later if I am involved in out-of-school activities. For this I receive less than pound;20,000 a year, which my local authority found, during a general salary review recently, to be rather high.

I would like to retire this year, at 60, but I may have to work for several years yet to save for a reasonable pension.

I manage because we don't have a mortgage on our house, I walk to work and holidays consist of a few days in our old caravan on a friend's farm.

Please don't forget that there are other people who deserve a pay rise, but are not on teachers' salary scales.

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