A few years ago there was a teacher strike at Karl’s school and I made a few comments on it, inadvertently being quoted on the local newspaper front page. I thought I’d blogged about it but I can’t find the entry so it was probably lost in one of my many DB breakages.
Anyway, the teachers are at it again and this time the strike is country-wide, affecting some 7,800 schools according to the BBC. Nicely timed to coincide with year 11s revising for their big exams over the coming months. Apparently, they’re demanding a pay rise above the 2.45% offer they’ve been given because they work oh so hard and deserve as much money as possible.
The very fact that these people are getting a pay rise at all is something they should be grateful for. Year after year, which teachers are sat in their cushy jobs with their over-inflated pay, working short days and short years while teaching assistants, network managers, IT technicians, resource technicians, etc — all of those crappy jobs that go on behind the scenes that are just as integral to the running of a school as a teacher is — get bugger all. They’re looked over for pay rises, while the demands on their time rises.
Teachers get a starting salary of over £20,000. What does your average IT technician/teaching assistant/other support staffer earn? Around £12,000-£16,000. Teachers are given grants to train. What funding do support staff receive to train in the field, or to continue professional development after they’ve found a full time position? 0. Teachers get a “golden hello” for choosing to teach certain subjects. What do support staff receive for supporting those subjects? 0.
Do those support staff/etc get the same abuse from the same students, day-in day-out? Yes. Do those support staff work the same hours — or more often than not, more — simple to keep a school running as it should? Yes. Do IT technicians and network managers get dumped on with home computers, home Internet problems and irrelevant shit that should be taken to PC World? Yes. Do these support staff and technicians take work home even though they already have longer hours and shorter holidays? Yes. Do other graduates in other industries have to pay off the same loans, pay the same bills and the same rent/etc, have difficulty getting on the property ladder with no hope of a pay rise and no unions to support a strike? Yes!
When I worked as an IT technician, I was given little above minimum wage for my hours per week. I received no respect from the teachers, often being patronised because of my age (and because I’m a female in IT). I would support a class in the IT room — above and beyond my job description — while teachers sat at their arse surfing Facebook or Hotmail at the front of the class. I fixed the computers that the students punched and kicked because they knew the teacher watching wasn’t interested (not their property, not their problem). I did jobs that I shouldn’t have been doing because the teachers couldn’t be arsed.
While teachers have had their 19% pay rise (total) over the past 11 or so years, those people supporting them have knocked been back, receiving little or nothing. So do I support the teachers strike? No I bloody well do not. Let’s get some of the hardest working, lowest paid workers in the UK — in education and otherwise — on something a little more fair before we start dishing out extra to the already well-paid teachers.
(Note: individual figures dependant on location, individual school, etc.)