Tell us something we don't know

15th December 2000 at 00:00
I notice that Dr Jefny Ashcroft has lost none of her great capacity for woolly thinking ("Give us the money and do it now", FE Focus December 1).

She castigates David Blunkett, the Education Secretary, for again trotting out the mantra of "something for something" only to do the same thing herself when she calls for lecturers to get the money because they "have given 'something' already".

And what is that something that lecturers have given? Nothing more than classroom hours and workload; in a word, conditions of service.

Dr Ashcroft may wish to link the pound;50 million allocated for pay increases to changes in conditions of service, something which her version of the "Left" used to oppose, but which most lecturers are not interested in. For that matter, and to his credit, neither is Mr Blunket.

I go to work and in return I get paid a wage; something for somethng. A main grade lecturer on point 5 of the scale would go up to point 6 after a year; something for something.

Only charities get something for nothing. And lecturers are not charity cases. We do not want something for nothing. Neither do we want something for anything. The question is, what is the nature of the second something in that very basic concept of "something for something"?

That is why the national executive of the lecturers' union NATFHE instructed its general secretary, Paul Mackney, to talk to the Department for Education and Employment to ensure that that something is not performance, but really something, including qualification.

Something that lecturers have been engaged in, collectively and individually, over the past few years.

Fawzi Ibrahim Senior lecturer College of North west London and NATFHE national treasurer London, WC1

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