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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
School technicians' pay 'shocking'
Sue Sharp
Sue Sharp says her work is rewarding
School technicians are underpaid and suffer poor working conditions, according to a report by MPs.

So just what is the typical experience of the thousands of laboratory technicians in schools up and down the land?


Sue Sharp has worked as a chemistry laboratory technician at St Edwards Church of England School in Romford, Essex for 20 years and loves her job.

"I like the variety, I like the feeling I'm doing something for the children and for the future," says Sue.


I'm working in a preparation room - there are four of us in here and we have no windows

Sue Sharp
"There's a lot of job satisfaction - I'm not doing it for the money."

And with a salary of 17,000 per annum that is not surprising.

But Sue is a lot better off than most - her 20 years' service and her position as senior technician put her on a salary well above her colleagues.

Full-time work

She is also lucky to have a full-time job, which pays her for 52 weeks of the year.

A typical starting salary for a full-time technician - pay structures vary from school to school - is something in the region of 11,000 to 12,000.

science lab
Lab technicians set up experiments in class
"Now that's assuming you can get a full-time post - because there aren't many out there - otherwise you'd get just a proportion of that salary," said Sue.

"Some of the pay is shocking, I'm well-paid as far as school lab technicians go, but it's still lower than what I'd be getting in my previous job in industry.

"We've had youngsters look at the job perhaps when they left school, but when they're not going to be working all year round, it's just not worth it.

"And that's why it's difficult to attract young people into the job, but we really need to encourage people to start it as a career."

Busy day

Sue's day is always frantic, as she prepares experiments and demonstrations, makes up solutions, prepares slides, orders books and equipment and generally tidies up.

But the conditions in which she and her colleagues work are far from salubrious.

"I'm working in a preparation room - there are four of us in here and we have no windows.

"Things are very crowded and there's a shortage of space that doesn't really enhance the job," says Sue.

Sue is working with the Association for Science Education to try and improve the lot of school technicians.

"We need to get a structured pay scale in place - it's too late for me, but I want to help the staff of the future so they can stay in a job they like," she says.

"I was lucky, I had a husband who was working, but others have to support the family on their wages and it's just not possible."

See also:

11 Jul 02 | UK Education
03 Jan 02 | UK Education
16 Jul 01 | UK Education
05 Mar 01 | UK Education
02 Jan 01 | UK Education
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