'Sneering cynics' have a point, Mr Blunkett

9th October 1998 at 01:00
If David Blunkett had carried out any real research into the events surrounding salary negotiations for teachers in the past, he might have understood the teacher critics of his current proposals and not aggressively labelled them "sneering cynics".

He proposes raising the status of teachers by spending millions of pounds over the next two years or so on big pay rises to some 5,000 so-called superteachers (who are yet to be discovered and identified).

The raising of status will only apply to those who become superteachers whereas the impact on other teachers will be devastating. The real aim seems to be to save money by not awarding a proper salary increase to all teachers who are not deemed superteachers.

Back in the 1950s, the Burnham salary committee introduced a similar scheme offering graded posts to selected teachers mainly in secondary schools so they could get more money. Only the largest of primary schools were involved, being awarded one post per school.

Has this scheme raised the status of teachers? No, of course not. That wasn't the object of the exercise which was to camouflage a lower all-round increase.

If you want to raise the status of teachers then you must raise the salary significantly for all teachers and new entrants.

Pay a decent salary and you will get the right people entering and staying in the profession. Cosmetic treatment will fail.

Alf Everton. Formerly primary school adviser. 13 Micawber Way. Chelmsford. Essex

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