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Friday, 2 February, 2001, 15:34 GMT
Pay award sparks action threat
Nigel de Gruchy
Industrial action ahead warns Nigel de Gruchy
The head of one the biggest teaching unions has warned of industrial action following the announcement of the pay award.

Nigel de Gruchy, the General Secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) described the planned 3.7% rise as "pathetic".

He said: "This deal will do nothing to solve the recruitment crisis.

If the government doesn't do something to solve the problems we'll have to do something ourselves

Nigel de Gruchy, NASUWT
"It adds up to nothing more than a pathetic patchwork of piecemeal measures which lamentably fail to tackle the fundamental problem of making teaching an attractive career.

"Has anyone told them there is a serious teacher shortage out there? "

Mr de Gruchy described the pay award as the most disappointing for many years.

'Conference prelude'

The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, described the response of the unions as "deeply depressing" and accused Mr de Gruchy of trying to stoke things up ahead of his union's annual conference.

"Nigel is building up to a confrontation before every Easter conference season," he said.

"I don't think he is just posturing. I think he has every intention of causing the maximum aggravation."

alison withers
Alison Withers: "We expect more"
The General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, Doug McAvoy was just as blunt, however.

"If the government thinks that a 3.7% increase in the pay bill will deal with the recruitment crisis it really is living in another world," he said.

And ordinary teachers did not seem impressed.

At The Wavell school in Hampshire - with high living costs but no London allowance - the view was that the rise was not enough.

"We don't qualify for the allowances, even though we are paying south of England prices," said Paul Brown.

"I'm currently on a salary that is the same as a teacher in the north of England."

debby pollard
Debby Pollard: Husband subsidises her work
"I think when you judge the job that we do and the conditions that we work in, even though we love our job I think we all expect a bit more of a reward," said Alison Withers.

"My husband is also a graduate and he earns considerably more than I do," said Debby Pollard.

"In fact if it wasn't for him I don't think I could afford to be a teacher."

David Hart, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, accused the pay review body of being the government's poodle and said it had produced a "mouse" of a report.

"Its solutions to the recruitment and retention crisis are both too little and too late - 3.7% will do nothing to stop the surge of experienced senior staff leaving the profession," he said.

The general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Peter Smith, said the award was "no better than a kiss and a promise".

Scottish comparison

Unusually, the Department for Education in England has published figures comparing the pay rise there with the offer in Scotland.

We will continue to be desperately short of teachers and the government will be responsible for the damage this will cause to children's education

Doug McAvoy, NUT
These show a starting salary of 16,000 north of the border, against 17,000 in England and Wales.

And the salary for a "good, experienced teacher" - which assumes they apply for and get the performance-related higher pay scale - is at least 26,900 in England and Wales, 25,600 in Scotland.

But the unions are concerned about conditions as well as pay.

"If teaching is going to become a seriously attractive job then the government should follow the Scottish lead and pledge to achieve a 35-hour week for teachers within the lifetime of the next Parliament," Peter Smith said.

Long-term erosion

The Secondary Heads Association said the pay rise failed to address the year-on-year decline of teachers' salaries against those of other graduates, particularly five to 10 years into the profession.

"It will not solve the nationwide recruitment problems faced by secondary schools in almost all specialist subjects," said the general secretary, John Dunford.

"The increase in London allowances, while welcome, does not help in other areas of high housing costs where teacher recruitment and retention are particularly difficult.

"The pay settlement also fails to introduce much-needed flexibility into the salaries of heads and other school leaders, to enable governors to reward them adequately for leading the successful introduction of massive changes in recent years."

Doug McAvoy, NUT
"We will continue to be desparately short of teachers"
Nigel de Gruchy, NASUWT
"The most disappointing pay award for years"
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