Portrait of a job - sized staffroom

5th September 2003 at 01:00
Conserved pay is a bitter-sweet pill. For the thousands of secondary teachers who have been downgraded, it is the demotion of leadership posts, anomalies over grading and mystery of the job-sizing process that is causing resentment. Raymond Ross reports on the effects across one school

Walk into any state secondary school in Scotland this week and ask the staff how they are feeling about McCrone and the national teachers' pay and conditions agreement and their answer is likely to be "Sore".

Half of the 13,000 promoted staff in all Scottish state schools and 68 per cent - 6,048 - of promoted secondary posts have been downgraded in the national job-sizing exercise, while 71 per cent - 2,690 - of primary promoted posts have been upgraded and won higher pay.

At Bearsden Academy in East Dunbartonshire the atmosphere is one of puzzlement, embarrassment and disappointment. Out of 29 promoted posts in this school of 1,375 pupils, only one was upgraded. Five remained comparable and the rest were downgraded, albeit with salaries conserved for those in their posts since before April 2001.

"The whole thing has gone down like a lead balloon," says headteacher Mike Doig, who is president of the Headteachers' Association of Scotland, representing secondary heads.

"Money isn't the issue. People feel they have been devalued as post-holders, with some feeling they have been devalued more than others."

The views of his staff are being echoed in education authorities around the country.

Despite suspicions among some at Bearsden Academy that job-sizing is a long-term money saving device and that the secondary sector is being made to pay for new promoted posts in primary schools, there is no resentment against primary teachers per se, many recognising that the case for parity is one that has to be answered, though not at the expense of the secondary sector.

However, there is resentment - and bafflement - about the lack of transparency regarding job weighting and the suitability of the one-size-fits-all toolkit devised by consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers and accepted by the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers to assess all sectors and sizes of schools.

There is also resentment that the weighting measures seemed to take account of responsibility for teaching staff but not for auxiliary staff or pupils.

There are anomalies which some feel are absurd; there are fears that career and management structures are being undermined; and there is a general feeling that PricewaterhouseCoopers was neither suited nor up to the job.

"I have no problem with the principle of measuring what a job is worth but the method must be more transparent and more robust," says Mr Doig.

"How the calculations were done is obscure. The process is fundamentally flawed.

"Principal teacher of maths is the only post at Bearsden Academy which was upgraded significantly (3.5 per cent). You might have expected, as happens in other schools, the biggest department (English) to be similarly upgraded. It wasn't.

"Other anomalies are that five of my deputes - all former assistant headteachers - are sized at two different levels and a further one - the original depute - has been downgraded by pound;4,000.

"If I decide to change their remits - which is good to do in terms of team work and individual professional development - I'll now be causing someone to lose money in favour of another.

"All guidance PTs have been downsized considerably, but one lower than others. There seems no logic to it," he says.

Even Mr Doig's post was downgraded, by 2 per cent from pound;64,623 to pound;63,300.

He does not believe the assessment process has been a cost-cutting exercise on behalf of the Scottish Executive and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. "Not in the short term with the conservation of salaries," he says.

"But one has to ask where the money saved through salary cuts is going to go in the long term. One would hope it would stay in the sector which incurred the loss."

Mr Doig fears that recruitment of principal teachers may be affected as some posts are now graded at salaries lower than an unpromoted chartered teacher could achieve. "In some cases leadership posts will be less attractive in salary terms," he says.

It is the one-size-fits-all approach - applied to a principal teacher in a small school through to the head of the biggest school, covering guidance and crossing the primary, secondary and nursery sectors - which he believes has been the fundamental mistake. "We need much more refinement, between middle and senior management and between the sectors, for example," he says.

"While the intention was to address inter-sector rivalries, it has caused more problems than it has solved. It has replaced one unfairness with another.

"You really have to ask whether a commercial company such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, with no real knowledge of the education world, could grasp all the nuances required and do the job in their six-month remit."

Next week: the view from primary schools

Annette Mackay

depute headteacher

salary pound;41,508

job-sized salary pound;40,401 (ie - 2.7%)

"I'm in charge of guidance. Out of the five depute heads who were formerly assistant heads, my point score was the lowest, but I don't know why. I could be a little miffed except that the whole job-sizing thing is so blatantly stupid.

"Whatever system they've used, it is not tailored to schools.

Working with pupils doesn't come into it. It's not included in the weighting as far as anyone can see.

"It's a school and working with pupils doesn't come into it!

"Take guidance, working directly with pupils. All our principal teachers were here before the job-sizing exercise. Their posts will be downsized by pound;2,000 when they retire in three years or so. The general feeling is it's unfair.

"How can our PT of maths and our PT of English be job-sized differently? That's certainly not the case in other schools.

"In our science department, one PT is a step higher than his two colleagues and no one knows why.

"There seems to be no rhyme nor reason for these decisions. The toolkit is shrouded in secrecy. We cannot work out the reason for the inequalities in job-sizing within our school or between schools. What makes this stick in the throat is that teacher salaries have always been transparent.

"I think the career structure is now under threat. Assistant heads, assistant principal teachers and senior teachers have gone. We have lost 18 in total. The career structure is now class teacher, principal teacher, depute head, headteacher. That's it.

"Most people go into teaching to teach in class or work their way up slowly. Only a few advance rapidly as a rule.

"I know it was not part of the purpose of job-sizing but a lot of people thought job-sizing might compensate for the loss of promoted posts. Yet most have been downgraded.

"A lot of people, particularly in guidance, which has been radically restructured, feel let down.

"There is also a feeling in secondaries that we have been sold down the river for primary schools. Our promoted staff posts have gone to give primaries more promoted posts.

"You might argue these are two different issues but there is only one McCrone pot and they've job-sized secondaries downwards to make savings.

"It's so stupid I can't even get annoyed about it."

Eileen Young

depute headteacher

salary pound;41,508

job-sized salary pound;41,499 (-pound;9)

"I was assistant head at Williamwood High for more than three years before becoming assistant headteacher here in May 2001. The advertisement did not say 'salary subject to job-sizing' but this proved to be the case. Mine's conserved and the difference is minimal anyway but the principle rankles.

"We have two depute heads on a higher scale than the other three, which is a bone of contention and could cause divisions. It hasn't.

But why should one depute be told they're not worth the same as another without being given a reason?

"What are the hidden factors? If people knew what responsibilities had the heavier weighting they'd probably want those responsibilities in order to gain the weighting.

"It's good practice to rotate remits in senior management but not for salary reasons. We are meant to be a management team and this could be divisive.

"It's affecting our principal teachers too. They come to me and say: 'Am I not working hard enough? Am I not worth a certain salary? I'm working hard.

I can't do any more.' "

Gordon Milloy

principal teacher of maths

salary pound;37,782

job-sized salary pound;39,099 (+3.5%)

"Having been upgraded by around pound;1,300, there's a degree of embarrassment. There's been no real bad feeling, though some folk have taken to saluting me ironically in the corridor.

"I can't see why I've gone up and others haven't. It might be because I've two depute heads with a teaching commitment in my department, but no one knows what the principles behind job-sizing are.

"Does size of department matter? If so, we're close to English but there was no upgrading there.

"Then again, a small department PT can be just as hard working. How is that taken into account? Is it?

"I'm not in favour of performance related pay in teaching but that at least would have a logic to it."

Ian Stewart

principal teacher of design and technology

salary pound;37,782

job-sized salary pound;37,800 (+pound;18)

"Nobody has explained and no one seems to be able to explain how they worked out the points system. Someone must know but they're not forthcoming.

"It's not treating us as professionals. In fact, it lacks common courtesy.

"What expertise did PricewaterhouseCoopers have in education? Applying business principles to education is nonsense.

"I suspect job-sizing might be a money saving operation.

"It is divisive because basically all principal teachers are doing the same job. It has caused resentment, not against individuals but against the system. I think most PTs felt the old system was fine.

"I've stayed roughly the same but I feel for those who have been downgraded. I would have felt insulted if I was.

"I was annoyed I wasn't able to claim for responsibility for my technicians.

"I could understand a teacher not going for a PT post now where the chartered teacher route will pay more for less responsibility."

Alex Cooke

principal teacher of guidance and chemistryscience class teacher

salary pound;37,782

job-sized salary pound;35,199 (-6.8%)

"I've been job-sized downwards by about pound;2,600, though my pay is conserved. I don't feel any more undervalued than I've always felt.

"I'm not sure I understand the criteria. They did not seem to take into account time spent supporting pupils, liaising with parents and outside agencies or crisis management.

"I organise work experience for S4s - more than 260 pupils - but that did not affect the weighting.

"PricewaterhouseCoopers did not understand what guidance involves and I feel they are probably not confident in revealing what yardsticks they used because they are not confident in themselves that they have the right criteria. They just didn't have the expertise needed.

"I think this is the first testing point in what might be a long, drawn out process.

"Job-sizing will save substantial amounts of money in the next 10-15 years.

I just hope this wasn't the purpose of it."

Allan Crossley

principal teacher of guidance and chemistryscience class teacher

salary pound;37,782

job-sized salary pound;33,900 (-10.3%)

"The initial questionnaire bore no relevance to guidance workload because it never took cognisance of pupil caseload, just the number of staff you were in charge of. I also organise our education-industry links.

"We lost four posts from last session due to restructuring and I feel job-sizing further undermines guidance.

"My workload has almost doubled while they're reducing the money for my post, although my salary is conserved.

"There has been no cross-referencing of the amount of money being paid to the amount of work being done.

"In many ways it goes right back to McCrone, which seemed to ignore guidance.

"We have already lost two members opting out of guidance because of the workload issue and they have transferred on to the chartered teacher scale."

Duncan Toms

principal teacher of history

salary pound;37,782

job-sized salary pound;33,900 (-10.3%)

"I've been a principal teacher since 1985, so my salary is conserved. However, the next post-holder will be downsized by almost pound;4,000.

"I have two main concerns: firstly, the lack of openness and secondly, the downgrading of smaller department subjects.

"The old system did need to be modified but we needed an open debate.

Larger departments may have more responsibility but the PT of a smaller department has fewer people to share the workload, which makes that load heavy.

"The weighting needs to be justified. My post salary is now lower than the top of the chartered teachers' pay scale.

"This might move us towards a faculty system, which I'm against because you need subject specialists to lead. A class teacher would probably not be prepared to take on the development work a principal teacher does.

"This might well affect PT recruitment and with fewer history PTs there would be less emphasis on history in a faculty system. It is bad for the subject. Lack of time for history is already a problem, along with it being optional after the age of 14.

"I don't feel any less valued, though, because I've never suffered from the illusion that as a teacher you're particularly valued in the first place."

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