The simple case for higher wages

5th November 2004 at 00:00
Head Adrian Percival, ("Comparison confuses the pay issue", TES, October 15) certainly did not "set the record straight" about the comparison between teachers' and support staff's pay.

It is true that most school staff work only in term-time but the phrase, "term-time only working" refers to term-time only pay. Mr Percival contends that teachers are paid for only 195 days a year, the proof being that a supply teacher gets 1195th of an annual salary. That makes teachers'

hourly rate rather handsome - and dangerously challenges the argument that teaching is a full-year job. If support staff earned anything like that hourly rate. I doubt you would hear a whisper from them.

Mr Percival's comments on holiday pay misunderstand the remarks of Mrs Preece-Dawson ("Life on less than pound;6,000 a year", Letters, September 24). Yes, support staff get an element of holiday pay added to annual salary, but they also have up to a third of the year unpaid and for which benefit used to be payable, but no longer is. Her excellent letter drew attention to the fact that nominal (and minimal) salary rates for support staff are then reduced as are other benefits like pensions. It would be like a teacher's advertised annual salary of pound;27,123 yielding an actual salary of pound;14,490 (195365).

Mrs Preece-Dawson also pointed out that support staff are often on short hours and temporary contracts, and do unpaid work out of dedication.

Of course, support staff will compare themselves with the teachers with whom they work daily - but not in a grudging way. They just want a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and acknowledgement of their contribution.

Everyone, even Mr Percival, agrees their pay is poor, so let's focus on that major issue without getting defensive.

Christine Lewis National officer Unison Mabledon Place London WC1

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