TEACHER unions representing the majority of education staff in England and Wales have submitted a joint statement calling for a significant pay increase for teachers and school leaders, and setting out their views on the most pressing issues facing the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB).
ASCL, NAHT, NEU, UCAC and Voice believe that the STRB needs to set a benchmark for teacher and school leaders’ pay which will make teaching competitive with other graduate professions and aid both recruitment and retention.
A spokesperson said: “The evidence from our organisations of a growing crisis in recruiting and retaining teachers and school leaders means that the STRB must take this opportunity to fully exercise its functions as the independent pay review body for the profession. We believe that this must lead the STRB to recommend a significant increase in pay for all teachers and school leaders, irrespective of their career stage, setting or geographical location.
”We believe it is a matter of ‘justice and fairness’ that all teachers and school leaders should receive an annual cost of living increase to prevent them from being worse off year-on-year. ”The current policy of differentiated pay awards is not working and is demoralising the profession.
”We are calling for a significant pay increase for all teachers and school leaders to begin to address the decline in teachers’ real pay over the last seven years.
”It is also vital that any pay increases arising from the recommendations of the STRB are fully funded by the government. School budgets are at breaking point. Without additional funding, paying staff fairly whilst fully funding the curriculum will be impossible.”
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “After seven years of government-imposed austerity, teachers need and deserve a decent pay rise, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is essential in tackling the ongoing recruitment and retention crisis. And the government must fund any pay award rather than expecting schools to foot the bill from budgets which have already been cut to the bone.”
Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, (NAHT) said: “Teaching is a demanding and important profession and teachers’ pay should reflect this. At the moment, it doesn’t. The recruitment crisis continues unabated and the teacher supply pipeline is leaking at both ends. At present the government is failing to recruit enough new teachers, and doing nowhere near enough whilst too many experienced teachers leave prematurely. A pay rise for school staff is long overdue.”
Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union (NEU),said: “Children’s education is at risk – insufficient recruitment and retention of high quality teachers is a very real problem. To begin to address this, it is essential that teacher workload is reduced and that the government now commits to reducing a restorative pay rise, starting with a significant real terms increase in 2018, which is fully funded. Ministers are right when they say an education system is only as good as its teachers and leaders. The public is demanding government values these hardworking professionals who can make such a positive impact on young people’s futures.”
Elaine Edwards, General Secretary of UCAC, said: “For years teachers have not been properly valued or remunerated for their crucial contribution to the education and social development of our children and young people which has led to serious recruitment and retention problems in Wales and England. The UK Government must now address the issue of teachers’ pay and provide a fully funded restorative pay award as a matter of urgency for the next academic year.”
Deborah Lawson, General Secretary of Voice, said: “After years of austerity measures, it is time for the pay of teachers and school leaders to reflect the value of their work, and the importance of the teaching profession to both our children’s education and the future of the country. Without substantial pay increases, the current recruitment and retention crisis will continue. However, the pay rises required must be fully funded so that schools can afford to recruit and retain the teachers and headteachers they need.”
TEACHER’S PAY: HOW IT HAS SHRUNK
- Teachers’ pay has fallen in real terms by £3 per hour in a decade of public sector pay restraint.
- The median pay for a teacher in England is around £28,000 per year.
- Teachers’ contracts require them to work 1265 hours a year.
- That works out to around £22 per hour.
- At £25 per hour, that would mean the average full time teacher in England would earn around £32,000 per year.
- In order to return teachers’ pay to the level it was a decade ago, it would be necessary to award a one-off 14% increase followed by indexation to the cost of living index thereafter just to keep pace.
Examination crisis: teacher’s predicted grades to be given to students
THE Welsh Government has announced today (Mon, Aug 17) that AS, A level, GCSE, Skills Challenge Certificate and Welsh Baccalaureate grades in Wales will now be awarded on the basis of Centre Assessment Grades.
This occurred after the outrage of students, causing protests outside the Senedd after hearing that a total of 42% of A-level grades predicted by their teachers had been lowered when the Welsh results were published last week. This was due to the decision to process these grades through an algorithm.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams said she took the decision to maintain confidence in the system.
Speaking on the decision, Kirsty Williams said: “Working with Qualifications Wales and WJEC we have sought an approach which provides fairness and balances out differences in the standards applied to judgments in schools.
“Given decisions elsewhere, the balance of fairness now lies with awarding Centre Assessment grades to students, despite the strengths of the system in Wales.
“I am taking this decision now ahead of results being released this week, so that there is time for the necessary work to take place.
“For grades issued last week, I have decided that all awards in Wales, will also be made on the basis of teacher assessment.
“For those young people, for whom our system produced higher grades than those predicted by teachers, the higher grades will stand.
“Maintaining standards is not new for 2020, it is a feature of awarding qualifications every year in Wales, and across the UK.
“However, it is clear that maintaining confidence in our qualifications whilst being fair to students requires this difficult decision.
“These have been exceptional circumstances, and in due course I will be making a further statement on an independent review of events following the cancellation of this year’s exams.
“Other Awarding Bodies across the UK are involved in determining the approach to vocational qualifications. This continues to be the case but it is important that I give assurance to GCSE, AS and A level student at the earliest opportunity.”
This was a decision welcomed by Suzy Davies, Shadow Education Minister.
Commenting on the Decision, Suzy Davies said: “This has been an exceptional time, and this news will come as a very welcome relief for the thousands of A-Level students who last week were looking at grades lower than they were predicted to receive. It will also be a relief to pupils expecting results this week as well as an acknowledgement of quite how much effort teachers put into this.
“It is reassuring that the Minister has listened to the Welsh Conservatives and other parties in the Welsh Parliament, but especially pleasing that she heard the voices of young people up and down the country.
“These students – at A, AS, GCSE, Skills Challenge Certificate, and Welsh Baccalaureate level – will now have the confidence to plan their future education or career aspirations, and reach their potential.”
The Education Minister also promised an independent review of the events “following the cancellation of this year’s exams”.
Students who received higher grades than those predicted by teachers will keep them.
Swansea University appoints new governing body Chair
Swansea University is pleased to announce that Bleddyn Phillips has been appointed as its new Chair of Council.
Mr Phillips, who joined the University’s governing body in May 2017, has been appointed Chair for a four-year term replacing Sir Roger Jones, whose term of office came to an end in September 2019.
Mr Phillips said: “It is a great honour to be appointed Swansea University’s Chair of Council. As a Welsh-speaker, with strong roots in Llanelli and Gower, and with both parents having studied at Swansea, I have long felt an affinity with the University and have been delighted to serve on the Council.
“I want to acknowledge the contribution made to the University by Sir Roger Jones over almost 14 years and I very much look forward to working with, and serving, the University as it celebrates its centenary in 2020 and beyond.”
Professor Paul Boyle, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said “It will be a privilege to work with Bleddyn as we develop our new strategic plan and look forward to beginning our second century in 2020.”
Mr Phillips is a lawyer by profession, a former commercial director at oil companies BP and Total, and later Global Head of the Oil and Gas practice at the international law firm, Clifford Chance LLP. He is Director of Llanelli Scarlets RFC and was a trustee of the Wales Millennium Centre from 2012-2018.
The Council is the University’s governing body, which approves the mission and strategic vision of the University, long-term academic and business plans, key performance indicators and overall standards. The Council assures that the University discharges its duties in accordance with the Welsh Quality Assessment Framework.
Experts attack Welsh Government’s proposed smacking ban plan
PROMINENT academics have criticised the Welsh Government’s bill to criminalise parental smacking during a public debate at Swansea University.
Tonight, experts from the fields of sociology and criminology and parenting studies poured scorn on the plan during an Academy of Ideas debate on state intervention in the family.
A panel of three academics discussed the merits or otherwise of the smacking legislation, which is due to be debated by AMs for a third time in January next year.
Dr Stuart Waiton, a senior lecturer in sociology and criminology at Abertay University and outspoken critic of the Scottish smacking Bill, said: “No longer treated like citizens, as adults who have an opinion and a basic level of autonomy to raise our children, we have culture change imposed from on high – we are made ‘aware’ by the new authoritarians holding the stick above us.
“The smacking act is a disgrace. It is a form of brutality that undermines parents, weakens the meaning of freedom, and will go on to destroy many loving families who dare to think and act differently to the modern elitists.”
Dr Waiton added: “The brutality of the smacking act will mean that a light smack on the hand or bottom of a child will be a criminal offence. Hard smacking is already illegal, but to the middle-class anti-smacking zealots that was not enough. Children, they argue, need equal protection from assault. The very language they use is alien to the millions of parents who occasionally smack rather than assault their children.
“Parents know that smacking a child is a form of discipline often done out of love and concern rather than something that is abusive and criminal.”
Criticising the way politicians at the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly have engaged with parents on the smacking legislation, he said: “The new elite think a lot about consultation and inclusion. The reality is a process run by a small section of society, politicians and professionals, who exist in their own bubble and are distant and disconnected from ordinary people.”
Ellie Lee, Professor of Parenting Research at the University of Kent also spoke out on the Welsh Government’s plans.
“Within the context of an authoritative child rearing relationship, aversive discipline including smacking is well accepted by the young child, effective in managing short-term misbehaviour and has no documented harmful long-term effects.”
She added: “It should be the concern of professionals who work with parents to respectfully offer them alternative disciplinary strategies rather than to condemn parents for using methods consonant with their own, but not the counsellors beliefs and values.”
The Professor accused the Welsh Government of using the “full force of the criminal law to attack people who disagree on the comparative merits of using smacking rather than something like timeout”, saying it is a “bureaucratic imposition on parents”.
Only one academic – Dr Gideon Calder, Associate Professor in Sociology and Social Policy at Swansea University – spoke in favour of Government interventions like the smacking ban.
Dr Calder argued that intervention is justifiable in some instances and said something like the smacking ban is not necessarily authoritarian. He said: “the point of the legislation is to safeguard children from potentially harmful interactions.”
Commenting on the debate, Jamie Gillies, spokesman for the Be Reasonable Wales campaign, said:
“The criticism levelled at the Government’s smacking plans tonight by experts in the fields of sociology, criminology and parenting studies should be a wakeup call to Ministers.
“Experts are not convinced that the plan to outlaw parental smacking is viable, needful or helpful in terms of improving child protection.
“I hope AMs hear the concerns of these academics as well as their constituents and scrap the smacking ban bill when it’s voted on in January.”
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