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EDITIONS
Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 00:06 GMT
Teacher: Why I'm on strike
Julian McAllen
Julian is head of business studies and economics
Up to 450,000 pupils across London will lose a day's education as members of the National Union of Teachers stage a one-day strike over London weighting allowances.

Business studies and economics teacher Julian McAllen feels the action he and his colleagues are taking is justified.


A head of department by the age of 30, Julian McAllen is progressing swiftly up the teaching profession ladder.

And yet he cannot afford to rent a one-bedroom flat near his school in Hornsey, north London, never mind buy one.

The area around Hornsey School for Girls is an expensive place to live, with rent for a flat being somewhere in the region of 1,000 a month.


It's not a course of action the teaching profession takes lightly... it's the only way the government will sit up and take note

Julian McAllen
"I'm having to live further out, where the rent is cheaper, and commute in," says Julian.

"Obviously this adds to my monthly outgoings and it costs me time as well."

He is looking to buy a property, but is restricted to cheaper areas, within a commutable distance from his school, such as Tottenham and Walthamstow.

"The affordable areas tend to be the ones with higher rates of crime - i.e. areas I don't want to live in long-term - and so the likelihood of me staying in London is that much less," he says.

Moving on out

Julian says one of his friends - who is also a head of department - earns less than him at a school in Gloucestershire, but has a much larger disposable income because housing and living costs are significantly cheaper.

Like many teachers, he believes the high cost of living in London will force him out in time.

"In the short-term I intend to stay in London, but in the medium to long-term I will move out because of the cost of living.

"That's unless teachers' pay improves, unless there's a positive compensating differential between teachers' pay in London and the rest of the country."

Pupils affected

Julian admits Thursday's industrial action will affect the education of the 1,300 pupils at Hornsey School, if only marginally, but he feels the capital's teachers have been pushed one step too far.

"The government has put teachers in this position - it's not a course of action the teaching profession takes lightly.

London allowances from April
Inner: 3,105
Outer: 2,043
Fringe: 792
"It's something we'd rather not do, but we've been forced into it - it's the only way the government will sit up and take note."

Julian says he looks at his wages in comparison to other public sector workers and feels there is a discrepancy.

"Take Metropolitan police officers - their London weighting is about 6,000, now that far exceeds teachers' allowance.

"I've been in the profession for six years, I'm a head of department and I'm earning 29,000.

"Now I keep seeing adverts for police officers for the Met with a salary of 26,000 - and that's just the starting salary.

"Maybe it's time for a career change!"


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Teachers' strike
Is it justified? Send us your views
See also:

06 Mar 02 | Forum
13 Mar 02 | UK Education
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