Stupid to abolish the holiday perk

24th July 1998 at 01:00
I WAS intrigued to read Frances Rafferty's article "The end of summer as we know it", which examined the latest simplistic call for the abolition of the traditional summer break in return for a substantial pay rise for teachers. There are many pitfalls to this strategy which so far seem to have gone unnoticed by teachers.

First, the loss of five weeks of statutory holiday would mean that each employee would have to fund extra journeys to work from hisher own pocket and the normal subsistence costs of merely being in work longer. In addition, a brief examination of large pay settlements in the past (Houghton, Clegg etc) have always resulted in many years of below-inflation pay rises, resulting inevitably in working longer for the same pay in the long term.

Teaching has always proved an attractive career for married women with children, because they can more easily combine a career with child rearing. Altering holidays would have a potentially catastrophic impact on recruitment and the incidence of women returning to teaching full time.

For all teachers with children there would be the added cost of child-minding fees biting ever more deeply into the "substantial" pay rise.

Teachers' holidays, though long compared with those of other professionals, are also rigidly fixed. Teachers with eight weeks' holiday, spanning most of the religious festivals presumably (therefore subsuming most of the bank holidays as now) would be forced to take holidays when prices are even more savagely high compared to the flexibility enjoyed by the rest of the population.

Finally, it seems crass stupidity by any employers' organisation facing a staffing shortage, an image problem and a demoralised workforce, that the solution is to take away the only thing that the general public and presumably potential teachers still regard as a perk. The answer to recruitment is quite simple: pay teachers more without any catches or populist soundbites.

DT Jones Glynneath Rd Resolfen Neath

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