Tuesday, 31 March 2009

They don't need no bloody pay rise

This from the Spectator’s James Forsyth.

His thoughts - and the thoughts of his first three commenters represent a weird mixture of wisdom and misunderstanding about the teaching profession.

Now that Snuffy’s taking a break from blogging, I thought I might say something about the family business.

The absurd demands of the NUT

James Forsyth

The National Union of Teachers is the spiritual successor to the National Union of Mineworkers; a union representing an honest, decent profession but with a leadership that is committed to an extreme version of leftism. The Union’s latest pay demands are a case in point.

Honest and decent and insanely hardworking, James. My father died in harness: my mother, uncle and cousin had their health broken by the job and only my cousin’s still alive, and other relatives and friends quite the business for reasons of survival. My lovely wife and I both ran screaming from modern-day teacher training as if the hounds of hell were following us.

But it’s not just the leadership.

The Daily Mail reports that:“Teachers want their days in the classroom cut to four a week – with a 10 per cent pay rise."

They’d be lucky to drop to five days a week in reality: my surviving teacher friend gets up at 5 to commute to school for six, and leaves work at the other six, or five, and there’s usually weekend preparation to be done. Don’t get me started on the holiday work. My childhood holidays were punctuated with side trips to gather materials for arts projects and seeds for science lessons. Ma and Pa Northwester never got the chalk from under their fingernails, rest their souls.

The pay rise is a crock.

All experienced teachers get paid according to their years’ service rather than any measure of worth – which is why sensible head teachers (read headmasters and headmistresses) often choose not to re-employ experience at the end of an academic year and hire someone younger and cheaper instead. I have a friend on his seventh year as a qualified teacher and he’s never had a contract for more than one year in that time and has been doing temporary and supply work pretty much every term since he qualified; apparently despite excellent results and popularity, he’s never been given a longer contract because he’s too expensive.

The National Union of Teachers is planning a campaign for contractual rights to spend one day a week marking work and preparing lessons.

It also wants a 35-hour limit on the working week.

Excuse the hollow laughter, but 35 hours? Seven hours per school day? Where are they going to find the tens of thousands of teachers to take up the slack and do all the lesson planning and preparation and marking and tick-boxing for LEA reports and tutoring hopeless would-be teachers and herding Newly Qualified Teachers and meeting-attending and retraining and case conferences and disciplining and listening to the grunts of the one sort of parents and the scholarship-to-Oxbridge-seeking of the other sort of parents. It’s not that there aren’t time-servers and blank files in teaching - I remember them existing even in the 1970s in my grammar school – but laziness is rare, I contend, in the staff rooms. Hard-working cultural Marxists and the other kind of Marxists in the classroom were there a-plenty, I’ll bet, and hard-working others I know for sure, for I grew up amongst them and was trained by them.

Demanding a 10 pay cent pay rise across the board and a reduction in working hours would be a stretch at any time, but to do so in the midst of a recession is just ridiculous. It suggests that the NUT's leadership is just looking for a fight.

Yes, they are. But someone elects them, and it just isn’t a tiny, well-organised extremist bloc. It’s a large, well-organised extremist bloc.

We undervalue teachers in this country.

I bloody don’t, but I get your drift. The underclass are especially vicious to them, as are the pushiest parents who won’t recognize that little Stephanie isn’t going to MIT no matter how nice their 4x4 and the ballet lessons they pay for.

We should offer the best ones more respect…

Respect only at first, I contend…

…and more pay.

...because then we’ll see how well the employment market handles it when schools stop being war zones and anticipating a meeting with parents stops feeling like the lead up to the World Light Heavyweight Championship, shall we? You’ll get a lot fewer resignations if the little sods are no longer allowed to abuse teachers and threaten them with rape, court proceedings or and parental violence.

Doing that will require moving away from national pay-bargaining and allowing individual schools to negotiate with individual teachers and to pay them by results.

Or by the preferences of the headmaster or the governors, or by a lower truancy rate, or by parental choice picking out schools with relaxed and happy teachers. We’re talking parent-controlled vouchers here whatever their criteria of choice, because the next point is bang on the money.

The NUT will go to the wall to prevent any government from allowing this. When it comes to improving education in this country and the respect in which teachers are held in, the NUT are part of the problem not the solution.

And the reason that the commies are elected to NUT leadership is that the teacher training colleges are cultural Marxist and they are owned by the local education authorities. The LEAs control teacher training and head teacher recruitment, pay, curriculum and the fabric of the schools themselves. The beaks themselves (now thoroughly incapable of thinking outside the West-As-Oppressor and children-as-innocent-factory-fodder box) elect the delegates who vote in the policies that continue to ruin education.

This is not just a political battle; it is a cultural one.

It’s no good paying teachers ‘by results’ if the only results they’ll ever manage achieving is via the narrow and dishonest lens that hates our culture and that subverts its norms. I don’t care how good their displays on slavery are: if they exclude mention of and deny the existence and success of the abolitionists and the West Africa Squadron, then the results will be one-sided at best.

Look at the American Press and broadcast media – the mainstream is owned and operated (apart from Fox) by the Left.

To stop the rot, we need to attack its source – indoctrination during training. Ditch the LEAs and strengthen the power to hire and fire to the headmasters and headmistresses; themselves motivated by ambitious and mobile parents, and even the most fanatical Lefties will have to turn up the maths and turn down the Marxism… or lose their jobs.

See, the 60-hours a week teachers are really dedicated. If the current culture survives, then their dedication will be tainted from the outset -at 18 or 21 when they enter teacher training. Teachers are like mediaval monks or nuns; utterly devoted to chasing out the devil of inequality and all its offspring. They’ll suffer privations and strikes and long, thankless hours if they think they’re doing the right thing.

We need to broaden their concept of the ‘right thing’ to include upholding our civilization.

Start them young.


Do you seriously think that the nation's biggest champagne socialist collective is 'honest and decent'?

Yep – honest and decent according to their own, blinkered, lights.

Rather than ask for this they should be glad for their job security and we should be looking to chop some of the fat - i.e. administrators, classroom assistants, and the rest.


How many days' holiday do teachers in Britain get?

Many more than they enjoy. They really do spend most of them at school or in training or on courses. Please don’t let envy and disappointment overcome the truth. A lazy enemy we could defeat easily – but not this honest mob.

Also, what is the basis of their demanding a shorter work week when they are currently the most ineffective teachers in the advanced world. Swathes of British children are leaving school illiterate and innumerate.

The system the unions and LEAs put in place with its ever-lower standards and ever vaguer ‘subjects’ is the result of the rot; not its cause. The power’s in the wrong place, i.e. not with the parents. Feed parents portable cash and let the headmasters sort them out.

Why do the teachers think that failure merits a pay rise? And shorter hours? - given that they have failed to do their job during the hours they currently work?

How could they do what we think of as a good job when they themselves campaigned against discipline and measureable educational standards? By the time we get to this opinion it is a career to late?

Fergus Pickering

Teachers are quite well paid these days but the job is much more horrible than it used to be partly because of all the forms they have to fill in and partly because the children are much more horrible than they used to be. The NUT has always been exactly as it is now.

The unions and the educational theorists and the LEAs made it horrible. Bin them all.



Thud said...

Those of us of a certain age still value and respect teachers(or the theory of)...nulabour destroyed their standing in class and society in their quest to do away with all our old'bad' habits.

North Northwester said...

Hi Thud.
"nulabour destroyed their standing in class and society in their quest to do away with all our old'bad' habits."

So they did. Bet they're going to regret the loss of deference and respect on the streets of London on Thursday.


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