Not fair, devalued, under-paid and over-paid

8th August 2003 at 01:00
As a mere parent, I view the various doom and gloom reports on the implementation of the McCrone deal with amazement. I first became an activist in education last century through the teachers' pay dispute of the mid-eighties.

Now, in the 21st century, we're back with the issue of teachers' pay. This time, in contrast to that previous occasion, the need to award a generous across-the-board rise has been recognised and 23 per cent, even over three years, is good and looked on with envy by those who've not been so lucky.

However, the quid pro quo has been to make a cut in the management structure - all those assistant principal teachers, principal teachers and assistant heads whose posts, over time, had resulted in the majority of staff in many secondary schools being in promoted posts.

The agreed solution was to look at the management content of a job and come up with new structures, while preserving the salaries of the current post-holders. It all seems so sensible and reasonable yet since the new structures have been announced, there has been nothing but a welter of stories about how it's not fair. Somehow or other everyone is a special case - Gaelic teachers, guidance teachers, religious education teachers.

However, those who have complained have failed to explain why these areas, however worthy in themselves, involve so much more management that they deserve to be paid higher than other posts.

Your report last week said that guidance is a core activity. True, but then so is most teaching. It is not clear to me why one core activity should require special consideration over any other core activity. But then don't ask me: I am a mere parent and have not been involved in any of these pay discussions.

However, teachers should be aware that for those of us in the real world, complaints about feeling "devalued" because essentially teachers are being over-paid for the job they do, don't make much sense, particularly not when set in the framework of an across-the-board 23 per cent pay rise. I should like to be so lucky and so over-paid.

Judith Gillespie Findhorn Place Edinburgh

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