I was at a party recently where this new performance-related pay deal was being lamented by parents.This you may think odd. There's little danger of an extra pound;2,000 per annum turning teachers' heads, sending them off on an orgy of designer moisturisers, illicit drugs and digital sunglasses.
Teachers have always been woefully under-paid in Britain. My father always bought second-hand cars and never took us abroad for holidays. I used to pretend to friends that he was an eccentric millionaire with a penchant for Snowdonia and Morris Marinas but at least in those days there were fringe benefits.
My dad rarely brought his work home, he was free to dress as he pleased and nobody reported him for walloping troublemakers. He often says that he wouldn't be a teacher today so why should anyone begrudge the profession's high achievers an extra pound;2,000?
The gathering was at Ginny's school which is fee-paying. Having a child in both systems I find myself delighted that Sarah's teachers are to get more cash, but less happy thatGinny's school fees are going up by 10 per cent. It's easier to be generous when it's not your money.
Britain's private schools are becoming alarmingly expensive, an indirect result of parents liking their children more, I gather. Nowadays fewer kids board, and boarding was where private schools really used to clean up. The loss of assisted places has also cost private schools dear, as has their determination to always pay staff more than the public sector, increments and all. The result has been income down, costs up and a huge hike in fees.
Private schools know that once parents commit to fee-paying they're loth to take children away, as belts get tightened. So, for any public-sector teacher who has resented the hours spent applying for that pound;2,000 while their private-sector colleagues are getting handed it on a plate, I offer this May Day consolation. You are helping to squeeze the rich. And the not so rich. Personally I'm looking at selling another car from the family's vintage Morris Marina collection.