Please 'donate' one week's salary

8th April 2011 at 01:00
Cash-strapped head turned to teachers to plug funding gap

With his budget coming under mounting pressure, the leader of a Catholic secondary hit on a radical solution - have all staff give part of their salary back to the school.

Dr Paul Doherty, headmaster of Trinity Catholic High School in Woodford Green, Essex, last month drew up plans for his 200 staff to donate a week's pay to help protect jobs and frontline services.

But Dr Doherty was this week forced to abandon the move - which would have raised an estimated pound;120,000 - over fears that it could prove "divisive".

The idea had been to hold a secret ballot of staff; if two-thirds had voted in favour, all members of staff would have been asked to donate the money over the next year.

In a letter outlining the planned ballot, Dr Doherty praised his "excellent" staff, who "protect, care and cherish" children at the school. But he said that the economy was in a "fairly dire" situation and that cuts would have an impact on every school.

Dr Doherty said that in 30 years as a head he had only made two teachers redundant and that he did not want to increase that number.

"If I believe that donating a week's salary in 201112 would save another colleague's job as well as being a contributory factor in maintaining our high quality of service, I believe in conscience I should do it," he wrote.

But speaking to The TES this week, Dr Doherty said that the plans for all staff making contributions would now not go ahead.

"I thought the contributions were a good idea to maintain our services, but there are problems with holding a ballot," he said. "We were originally going to plan for a two-thirds majority, but everyone has to agree. If someone opts out of contributing, it would be divisive.

"The drive behind the donations was that everyone would be affected; I think everyone should be affected. I don't want to have to sit in my room drawing lines through a small number of teachers' names."

Dr Doherty said that he personally gives about pound;3,000 a year to Trinity. Between January and September 2010 he was also in temporary charge at St Bonaventure's Catholic Comprehensive school in Forest Gate, east London, donating half of his salary for that post between the two schools.

Dr Doherty said he might yet go back to the staff and say "forget the ballot, but I will still do this. How many want to follow me?" However, he added that the school would also examine other ways to make savings in areas including IT and supply teaching costs.

Derek Moore, NASUWT national executive member who covers Woodford Green, said he had sent a letter to Dr Doherty saying that his plan for organising donations was "not appropriate".

"If teachers want to make donations that should be a personal decision for them and not organised by the school in this way," he said. "But it is symptomatic of schools having to manage budgets that - for the first time in some years - do not meet the cost pressures on the ground."

Original headline: School short of money: please `donate' one week's salary

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