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Cumbrian teachers could lose quarter of their pay in 'rebalance'

Teachers in Cumbria could lose a quarter of their salary if they are brought in line with private sector pay locally.

Alan Rutter photo
Alan Rutter

Ministers want to set public sector pay on a local, rather than national basis, believing the public sector is “crowding out” private growth in parts of the UK.

They say inflated public wages make it impossible for businesses to recruit bright candidates.

This has caused uproar in areas like Cumbria, where unions say it would lead to years of pay freezes and a “two-tier” public sector.

Documents submitted to the Treasury by Education Secretary Michael Gove detail how much teachers in each area receive in comparison to a private sector worker.

According to the figures, a teacher in Cumbria earns 125 per cent of a local private sector wage. In comparison teachers in the south tend to earn less – 89 per cent of a private sector wage in Southampton and 90 per cent in Reading.

Critics believe the move would exacerbate the north-south divide.

Alan Rutter, from Cumbria’s National Union of Teachers, said localising pay will result in more unfilled teaching posts across the county.

He said: “We think localising pay is appalling.

“It does not surprise me the difference in public and private sector wages as in Cumbria there are lots of part-time posts in catering and tourism. It is already difficult attracting teachers to Cumbria and getting them to apply for jobs, especially headship posts and it would be even harder if pay was cut by 25 per cent.

“My fear is it would lead to unfilled posts.

“Also reducing pay by 25 per cent would damage the local economy.

“This policy is ill thought-out. Public sector workers in Cumbria spend their money here and by slashing their salaries it will mean less money going back into the economy as their spending power will be reduced.

“The entire premise of this policy is wrong.”

Mr Gove wants to go further than the ‘local pay’ switch by handing each school the power to set teachers’ pay, believing this would give headteachers more flexibility to raise the profile of under-performing schools.

He said: “The current pay system is rigid, complex and difficult to navigate.

“It does not support schools to recruit and retain the high-quality teachers or leaders they need to address specific shortages and benefit their pupils.”

Have your say

Jay, although it is possible to earn more without a degree, the median hourly rate of pay for all graduates aged 21 to 64 is £15.18, 70% more than the non-graduate rate of £8.92.

Posted by Tom on 30 May 2012 at 15:10

Some good and valid points Paul M but lest not forget that although it is a vocation people who go into teaching expect fair reward and pay does matter - you can't expect them to go into it for low pay, unless you expected Doctors to do the same, or Lawyers, etc. Years of study to qualify should result in higher pay. I agree somewhat about many comments about many qualified people feeling superior, it's often true, but not in the teaching profession. I have first hand experience of working with degree qualified people in managerial jobs who, quite frankly, were useless even though they were paid a lot more. Perhaps we should distinguish degree qualified people and degree qualified jobs?

I'm not in favour of pay by results in teaching as that would open up a can of works. How would you compare a teacher in a school that may be in a deprived area, with a significant proportion of children coming from troubled backgrounds and getting no help at home, children who stay only a short time, i.e. travellers or children of those in refuges, schools with high numbers of children who start school not being able to speak English or have it as a secondary language. Compare that with a school in a well-to-do area, with comfortable and more supporting backgrounds, with more children having computers and access to the internet etc (OK, I'm generalising but it's quite true on averages)?

Would you pay the latter more? After all, their exam results are usually better. Or would you pay the first more as the teachers have a far more difficult job to do?

It's an interesting question as exam results don't tell the full story.

Posted by Anon on 29 May 2012 at 11:47

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