Monday, 30 September 2013

Why should you support the teachers' strike?

Tomorrow teachers in some regions of England will go on strike. This is the second in a series of proposed strikes by two teaching unions, the NUT and the NASUWT, who between them represent over 90% of serving teachers.

That they are striking together is significant. Historically the two unions have been rivals and relationships between them have often been fractious.

What has caused them to put their decades of differences aside and work together?

It can be summed up in one word: Gove.

This can’t be said often enough. Striking is a last resort. No one wants to go on strike. Teachers lose a day’s pay, and know that they will be accused of wanting the day off, of being lazy, of not caring about kids, or deliberately inconveniencing parents.  Striking is something you only do when you have explored all other avenues and found them blocked off.

But Gove has united teachers in a feeling that a stand has to be made and, since he won’t sit down and negotiate with the unions, we are taking strike action.

So what’s it all about.

Well, where do we start?

First of all Gove has announced that he wants teachers to work longer, pay more and get less for their pension than they agreed when they started the job.

So what, I hear you say. People are living longer, it’s a time of austerity and the country can’t afford to pay out for your “gold-plated” pensions. Them’s the breaks, right?

No. For a start our pension scheme has had £43 billion more paid into it than has ever been taken out. Let me repeat that. FORTY. THREE. BILLION. POUNDS. more has gone into our pension pot, paid for by serving teachers, than has ever been taken out by retired teachers. Our pension doesn’t need any input from the taxpayer to make it affordable for years to come, it’s fine as it is.

The increased pension contributions that Gove has demanded we pay combined with the pay freeze over the past few years means that, by April next year teachers will have had a 15% pay cut in real terms since 2010. That’s a FIFTEEN PERCENT paycut. We simply can’t sustain such an attack on our wages.

And teaching is a physical job. Carrying heavy boxes of books around a school, standing all day, crouching down next to desks to offer help, standing on desks to pin up displays, intervening in physical altercations – these are all a daily part of teachers lives. Keeping 30 children focused and on task for the best part of six hours a day takes enthusiasm and energy. It’s mentally and physically demanding and while most teachers say they will struggle to make it to 65, Gove is now insisting they go on until 68.  The cynical might say that, of course, he knows that’s simply impossible and means that many teachers will be forced to take early retirement, thereby losing many thousands of pounds from a pension that they have worked hard for for years, often decades.

Workload is another issue.  While Gove would like to maintain that teachers waltz in at 9, leave at 3, and sun themselves on beaches for six weeks in the summer the reality is very different.

Any teacher will tell you that a typical day starts nearer to seven, doesn’t finish until well after 6, that breaks during the day are non-existent and that weekends and holidays are taken up with marking and planning. And that’s for more experienced teachers. These days tales of newly qualified teachers being at school until nine or ten at night and then going in again on the weekend are not uncommon. Which is why there is such a high burnout rate in teaching.

And Gove wants us to do more. While most teachers need the holidays to keep on top of their workload, remind their family and friends what they look like, and physically and mentally recuperate, Gove says we should have shorter holidays and stay in school for longer so that we can have additional meetings and supervise after-school sessions.

But all of this, the pay cut, the stolen pension, the increased workload, he might have got away with all of this were it not for his devastating onslaught on education.

Amongst other things he’s

·         Removed the Educational Maintenance allowance that allowed poorer students to stay on into further education
·         Done nothing to reduce the trebling of tuition fees
·         Narrowed the curriculum into something one academic has called neo-Victorian
·         Removed the need for schools to employ qualified teachers
·         Stopped the schools modernisation programme and diverted the money into free schools often in places where there is no need
·         Destroyed university based initial teacher training so they we are now facing a significant shortage of teachers in key subjects
·         Created a schools places crisis
·         Refused to listen to the advice of the profession
·         Refused to implement policies based on evidence and research
·         Constantly denigrated teachers

Teachers have had enough. They’ve had enough of the attacks on their pay, on their pensions and their working conditions. But most of all they’ve had enough of the attacks on education.

It’s time to stand up for education. It’s time to stand up for teachers.

Please support the strikes.


  1. I have a lot of sympathy for what you're up against with Michael Gove, it's obvious he has very little knowledge or empathy for what goes on in a modern educational institution. I do feel however that you need to be clear - are you striking over his unwanted interventions or the changes to your terms of employment?
    Put simply, I would understand (not agree though) with striking over the endless government intervention. In terms of pay and conditions, that's beyond the pale. Teachers are paid exceptionally well in comparison to an equivalent corporate role (I hold a fairly decent level corporate job) with a massively generous pension at an earlier pay out date than most professions. A large proportion of the working population hold down physically demanding jobs until they are 65, builders spring to mind. What makes you a special case?
    I'm not anti-teacher, I live with one and have a huge respect for the them - but I think there are somethings that might have to be taken on the chin and the important things such as dealing with Gove should be the focus.

    1. There are no equivalent jobs in the corporate world.

      Plus, pay should be set at a level that encourages enough new teachers to join the profession ensuring continuity off education for all children. Cutting it leads to staff shortages. Gove is an umitigated disaster.

    2. As far as equivalent corporate roles go, teachers are highly qualified professionals - most have studied for and gained an undergraduate degree, and then returned to university to do post-graduate training (such as a PGCE), and then we all have to undertake a probationary on-the-job year of further training. Very few corporate roles require such a high level of qualification and training - the closest I can think of is an architect, and I wouldn't say teachers are paid particularly well in comparison with architects.

      What's more, teachers are trusted with an extraordinary degree of responsibility and care. They are given other people's children to look after every day, and not only do they have to ensure their safety and welfare (and this alone is an extremely rigorous process, and rightly so), but they have to teach them subjects which the children are often reluctant to study, AND they have to help them develop socially and emotionally along the way as well. Aside from healthcare professionals, I can think of no other profession which is entrusted with such a huge long-term responsibility for other people's lives.

      It's easy for people in a mid-level corporate role to feel they're roughly equivalent to teachers, and having worked in industry before teaching I can completely understand this point of view, but I feel this is a direct consequence of deliberate and repeated government devaluing of the importance of the profession.

      In reality, even a teacher who has only been working for two or three years is significantly more highly qualified and entrusted with far greater day-to-day responsibility than most corporate positions entail. Even so, teachers aren't asking for any more than what they get, they're just asking to not get any less, especially when the justification for it is utterly baseless and the end result will be harmful to the education of an entire generation of young people.

    3. You are wrong. I could increase my salary by half in a year by training as an accountant, which I could easily do.

      Please stick to facts.

    4. I've worked in the corporate world and I'm now a teacher. There is no comparison when it comes to workload and the mental demands. I choose this job, yes, but I do not choose for the media and government to consistently denigrate the profession nor for the unbelievable mess the govt's changes have wrought. Please come and work with a secondary English teacher for a day. My partner is a chartered accountant and says they've never known anyone to have to work so hard.

    5. Sorry simply not true. I was an IT project manager for years and whilst go-live hours were long and no extra pay was given - that didn't happen that often. I could have a lunch break - I could make a drink when I wanted one - I could go to the loo when I needed to. My salary at high 30's K reflected my training and expertise. In my 5th year of teaching having been back to university to acquire a post graduate certificate I now earn 27K. I am in school 8 - 6, I am responsible for 30 children and also for two subject areas on a whole school basis (almost all primary teachers are - it is expected it does not attract extra salary). I also work at least 2 hours at home each evening and 4 or 5 at the weekend. I deal with some very damaged children from homes where people are really struggling and therefore spend a lot of time contributing to multi agency meetings and dealing with extreme behaviour. Pay rises depend on performance now - performance is simply levels and marks - the additional support and care to get those children through the year is not measurable. I love my job and would not want to do anything else but "holidays" are recovery, taking stock and getting ready for the next onslaught. I thought having run multi million pound projects that my well developed time management skills would make teaching easily manageable - I would drown without them - but there are times when I come close to doing so anyway. At the end of the day children need experienced expert teachers especially as we have had so many changes in such a short time, we have not been listened to in any capacity so far - indeed there is a refusal to even have the conversation so many feel they have little choice but to strike.

    6. I quit teaching and retrained as an accountant. I've doubled my pay and at year end worked hours that made everyone pat me on the back. I didn't tell my friends who stayed in, they would have laughed in my face. Teaching is badly paid and a horrible job. It is a testament to their selflessness that *anyone* is willing to do the job let alone in the numbers that do.

    7. On top of the excellent points made by others, the idea if working until 68 also worries me in terms of pupil safety. As a science teacher, I regularly have 32 pupils in a lab with access to potentially dangerous chemicals and bunsen burners. Ensuring their safety means being very aware of when is going on at all times. If I can manage this at 68 I'll ve highly impressed but I don't hold much hope.

    8. I have been teaching in special schools for 34 years now. I have spent 5 years full time and 4 years part time in training. I have a B.Ed (Hons) degree, an MA (SEN) and a Masters equivalent in Psychology. My take home pay is under £2,200 per month. I have not received a pay rise in at least 4 years, and this year, due to changes in NI contributions, my pay has been CUT by £40 pm!
      Because of the nature of the children I work with, I am frequently hit, bitten, punched, scratched and spat at.
      And now Gove wants me to struggle on until I'm 66? What, on a walking frame?
      I know people decades younger than me, with far fewer qualifications, who earn much more, for far less stress and physical punishment....but I love the kids I work with and that's why I'm carrying on for as long as I'm able.

    9. In the 70s, teachers retiring at 65 had a radically lower life expectancy than those who retired at 60. I wonder what the figures are now. I had burnout at 35, though wouldn't have swapped my 10 years in teaching for any other job. Subsequent jobs in the corporate world have been like a holiday camp compared with teaching!

    10. I am a science teacher with a degree from a very good university in biomedical sciences. My partner has degree in business. They earned £6000 more than me in the first year of their job compared to my first year. Yet I worked at least 15 hours a week longer and spent all bar 3 weeks of my holidays doing work to make sure I could manage. The corporate world is better paid and less challenging. My head of department asked her husband how much a position like hers would earn in the private sector, his reply was £100,000 upwards, I guarantee you that is at least treble what she earns!

    11. My husband is burnt out at 39, has given over 100% for 18 years, and tried to hold a family of 5 together through illness and financial hardship. With the level of training and he went through to get where he is, he should not be undermined by ignoramus like Gove. I would like to see him teach for 18 weeks, let alone 18 years. My husband is among many who loved their job and Gove has made it unsustainable. Please listen to what those at the coal face are saying-its our children's welfare that is under threat, as well as our own.

    12. Name one equivalent to teaching!!!
      Englisch teachers are NOT paid exceptionally well, nor even well, considering what a huge responsibility they have and continue to take on DAILY!! One reason I left the UK was because I could not support a family on a teacher's wage, but am paid significantly more for the same job on the continent, where, I might add, schooling in general is inferior to the British. UK teachers are underpaid and, sadly, underrated

  2. I am an ex-teacher and support the action all the way. Good luck!

  3. I'm a partner of a teacher and fully support it teachers probably earn less than minimum wage if you take into account the hours they do.

  4. I sympathise. I really do. Especially over the education interventions. Education for all, and good quality education is the best long term way of increasing the living standards of our nation. I do think that consideration ought to be given to other public sector professions who are worse off. If teachers take a day’s strike, the children lose out on a day’s education, parents are inconvenienced, childcare sector benefits, others sectors loose out. If 90% of nurses went on strike for a day, people would die. That is the kind of responsibility nurses have. People DIE if they don’t do their job or do it properly. That is a slightly greater degree of responsibility on a daily basis yet they have worse starting pay, worse increments, worse conditions. Because of what would happen if they did go on strike, they are contractually not allowed to strike. They would be sacked. And hence have not had the ability to champion their own cause in the way that teachers have repeatedly been able to take advantage of.
    Nurses work 12.5 hour shifts that they get paid for but regularly (due to hand over etc) end up working 13-13.5 hours let alone any commute. They do not work set shift patterns so child care is either very difficult to arrange or very expensive as they have to use carers for the entire week for full working days and sometimes source additional care at weekends and nights. They get pooed on, vomited on, peed on, bled on, attacked (by adults, not children), abused verbally and physically, have to lift, move, wash and care for adults ranging from the very frail and elderly to the massively obese. They have to cope with people who are scared, losing or lost their minds, feel insecure and have lost some dignity and with death on a regular basis whilst constantly maintaining a professional yet caring exterior. They should be responsible for no more than 8 patients at a time yet regularly these days find themselves responsible for 12-15 patients due to staff shortages and yet when things go wrong and patients suffer, the finger of blame is usually pointed at the nurses rather than the system that fails them.
    They too have had pay freezes, pension changes, expectations of working longer plus staff shortages, increased responsibility, negative press coverage and so on. You have better pay and better conditions and the luxury of being able to strike whilst not being responsible for life and death. If any of you as teachers where taken ill in any way, you would expect the highest standards of care from the nurses yet perhaps you should consider some solidarity on their behalf and champion their cause for a bit until they have conditions at least equal to your own? Think on.

    1. I think you'd find pretty much all teachers would agree with you on these points. Teachers striking are not doing so because they feel they are better or deserve more than nurses - the Government are destroying the NHS at the same time as destroying state education.
      Rather than making it a 'them or us' situation (which the Government has been trying to do via the media for the last few years), why not realise we share the same problems and support each other.
      The problem is the current Government. The solution (aside from going down a Guy Fawkes route, which has its merits): vote for someone else at the next election. Shame Labour have such a poor leader at the moment.

    2. I agree entirely. Jangles, why try to make it into a competition of who is the most downtrodden? Surely the focus of your ire should be towards the government who is causing all of this bullshit to rain down on both teachers AND nurses. Reading all of these views and anecdotes makes me to walk the streets and just hug every nurse and teacher I come across. As pathetic as that sounds I really think they could do with a hug every now and again. Friends of mine have often said over the past few years that I should train to become an English teacher at state school. Not. A. Chance. Sorry, I'm just not that strong.

  5. This article has had a weird effect on me. I came here supportive of teachers and wanting to learn more about a teacher's perspective on why they are striking. But the article has failed to seize the opportunity of its headline.

    There are 2 broad areas of grievance here:

    1. Teachers' remuneration and working conditions
    2. Education policy

    If you want to earn the support of the non-teaching public, which of these aspects do you think you should focus on first and foremost? Which do you think is already seething with massive discontent among the public? It's not the first.

    I don't question your perspective on your contract with the DfE, but that's not where your opportunity to win hearts and minds lies. That's not the stand much of the public wants you to take.

    Of course you can and will and should focus on those things with your peers and at any negotiation table you may be offered. But for goodness sake, don't focus on those things when making your pitch to the public.

    I know the 2 things are related but sieze the opportunity right in front of you first.

    1. I don't get a pension, I too will work well past 65, I work 40hrs a week and I work in the community with high risk offenders.My company (a charity) doesn't recognise a union.
      please do not insult me with your stories of being hard done to, take a look around and accept we all take a hit.
      I can honestly say if someone offered me a teachers job I'd bite their hand off.

    2. So pay into a pension, we have to. The average age a male maths teacher lives to is 65.5, thats 6 months claiming a pension after paying in for over 40 years. Of course that is an average, so many die younger before retirement, many die older.
      The hit we have already taken is 15% of our wages cut in real terms, and that is going off the badly calculated RPI.

      If you want a job as a teacher, go and train as one.

    3. ....I cant afford to not work whilst I train or the cost of the course, but glad we can see the sympathy runs both ways.
      I'm pretty sure you must have taught me geography at high school.

    4. Verity......At last, someone talking sense. I also work for a charity, not high risk offenders though, but people living in their own home with severe learning difficulties, and the Autistic spectrum. I am always on my feet, at risk of violence on a daily basis, have the responsibility of handing out dangerous medication on a twice daily basis (four times daily if I have to pull a double shift....which I do, often), and am happy to be paid £7.60 an hour to do all of this. I also cannot afford to train to be a teacher, but quite frankly, seeing the greed and awful lack of empathy shown by some of the people here, who seem to believe themselves the only hard working people in the country, I don't think I could handle spending time with them in the staff room, even if I could take the time out to become a teacher. By the way, we do have a pension pot....our employer kindly pays in 0.5%......and you lot moan about pensions. Give me a break.

    5. Quite agreed Liam, my flatmate is a newly qualified techer, we were taking about pensions today, my company will match what I put into my pot, v generous for a private company, in his pension he gets back £2 for every £1 he puts in, no such scheme exists in the private sector, the teachers are striking for something other people can only dream off

    6. Oh dear-such ignorance. If you think that teachers are greedy and suffer a lack of empathy I suggest you DO THE JOB for 18 years like my husband. Only then will you understand that this strike is a desperate plea to reform what has become an unsustainable job. It is no longer a profession, as it is has been hijacked by government officials who are reducing the status of teachers to that of 'technicians' with no thought of the child's welfare. I appreciate that there are those who work hard outside teaching too, its not a competition about who is the most hard done by, merely standing up for what is right.

    7. Teachers get perks. Long holidays and well spaced out through the year. Great!
      They also get paid for 7 hours a day - and regularly work 11 - 12 hrs.
      They also take their work home with them.
      Most are responsible for subjects across several key stages (primary school)
      They sometimes have to deal with violent and abusive children and their parents.
      They have to teach EVERY subject (primary)
      They do all of this and more for the sake of educating the next generation. It is truly a vocation and one for which they train for 4 - 5 years and are paid a higher wage.
      Thee biggest problem is this; Mr Gove wishes teachers to be assessed purely on the progress children make in their class during a year. You can be an outstanding teacher, judged to be so by OFSTED, but children are not like cars - they do not come off the assembly line as identical products. Teachers should definitely be accountable - but the assessment system has to take all factors into account.

  6. Try telling a nurse, 'corporate manager', hairdresser, electrician, builder that a less qualified ( or no qualified) person was going to do their job. Even better, try telling their customers. Only hang's kids, they can't complain, they don't know the background of the new person teaching them, they just have to deal with sitting in front of them, day after day, their only chance to be educated in this country. And, when this generation has been allowed to fail as part of this horrific experiment, the people who are complaining about teachers striking today will wonder what they could have done instead to help give their kids the best chance in life. Education is not a babysitting service. It is the future. It REQUIRES people who are able to provide this in a professional and structured way and it is impossible under the current conditions. If you don't support the teachers today, dont get upset when your child doesn't succeed. I am supporting the strike for my children. .

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  8. If you're not happy with your working conditions, leave and find another job. There are many unemployed people that would love your job for the conditions you're complaining about. Stop being so ungrateful, and that you're not one of the unemployed people that can't FIND a job. If you're so unhappy with the way you're being treated, then work elsewhere.

    1. If you knew anything about this then you wouldn't be making this comment. Over 55% of teachers are considering leaving the profession if something isn't done which I'm sure you can imagine would have an incredibly damaging effect. With regards people wanting a job, most people would get a shock once they realised or had any idea what it's like to be a teacher. Also, those that are unemployed can become a teacher if they're prepared to put in the level of work and dedication which it takes.

    2. Right Kim, I'm sympathetic to the cause, but your "statistics" are ridiculous - If teachers really were considering such acts then they would force the hands of the government to listen to them.

      But they don't...... Pray tell why?

    3. Having worked in the corporate world (earning a fair wage) I became a teachet and have never regretted the decision. I am decently paid for a job I love and resent comments made from colleagues who whinge and bleat over how hard done by they are. Many professions require good qualifications, dedication, hard work and long hours. Not all receive the same renumeration and holidays. I would also add that good teachers do not view CPD or preparation a chore -nor does it or should it encroach vastly into family time. If it is you are doing something wrong and my advicr would be to rethink your career.
      As for Mr Gove - he is not the devil incarnate. Education has been long due an overhaul (although he has made a bit of a pigs ear so far even if the intentions are right). Previous incumbents have also had their issues.

      The bottom line is that reform is necessary and the profession - or those in it -need to accept this alongside the practical view that we need to work longer and do more to provide for our old age. Doing that whilst you are lucky enough to have a job that you enjoy doing is a bonus. I wonder how many of my colleagues on strike today accept that. Instead of feeling hard done by they need a reality check.
      I would end by urging all those who are only interested in teaching as a way of paying bills - forget it. Teaching is a vocation. If you don't get that you will always be dissatisfied -and really, we can do without your complaints in the staff room!

    4. That is an absolutely ridiculous comment to make, the point is teachers now are standing up for things that are going to happen in the future and this could include family members/friends of yours, who I'm sure you'd disagree with doing all of the above!

      My dad is a teacher and I will agree some of these points are exaggerated, or some things the Union Reps should be cracking down on like PPA etc.

      But it's still a daft comment to make!

    5. I am working at a sixth form college where I teach 22 hours of A level lessons (Use of maths, maths and further maths). The Further maths I teach is what many Universities spend the first year of their degree teaching so I need to spend time preparing my lessons (let's be on the conservative side and say I spend half an hour preparing for each lesson I teach) so that's another 11 hours.

      To know how my students are getting on I need to be regularly marking work - that's how I can support students properly and differentiate my lessons. Again lets be conservative and say 30 min marking per hour of teaching (and if you think that's too long you've not taught A level.)

      So that's 44 hours a week so far. Then I also attend the CPD the college requires me to attend... again I don't mind as it will improve my teaching. Let's call that 1 hour per week - so 45 hours.

      The college also requires us to do 2 hours of workshops a week (these are times where students can drop in to get individual help with work) 47 hours.

      At the moment our students are applying to University and require UCAS references, later we will be doing reports for them, then there are parents evenings, open evenings and the extra work required by OFSTED visits. I spend time analysing my class data, chasing students for missing work and other things which are hard to put times on.

      If I'm lucky I work a 50 hour week. (I get in to college at 7am most days and leave at 6pm and work through most of my lunch breaks and then I still take work home with me). I reckon this means I average at least a 55 hour week and yes it that much work does encroach on my family time. I guess that means I should rethink my career?

      I will admit to running a maths enrichment group and keeping a lunchtime free for that. I hope it will inspire students to want to continue maths to University and put extra effort into their normal maths lessons, I will also drop what ever I am doing to help students when they need help.

      I am rethinking my career, I have a maths degree and am very well qualified. As it happens I am looking at jobs in private schools but I will take on your advice that I'm not cut out to be a teacher. The sad thing is I'm happy with my current conditions but don't want to see them get worse - or my students education suffer.

    6. What a ridiculous comment to make, sure most unemployed people would love a job (well, not a job itself but the money that goes with it at least) - but to say people would love working in poor conditions? After a while, the novelty of a new job wears off and stress sets in. I've been unemployed and then worked in a stressful job .. and I certainly didn't love it. This is symptomatic of the small minded attitude that unfortunately is so prevalent in this country. Well done teachers for taking action. I certainly couldn't do your job.

    7. Heheh, Jeft is clearly a member of SLT who has walked into a cushy (and probably well paid role). Don't let her wind you up.
      I worked for a bank before teaching and got paid double for less work.
      Sadly it's now fashionable to denigrate teachers.
      I have come to enjoy teaching, after the first two years of horrible slog, but if I lose holidays and pay I will go back to the corporate world.
      Think of the children! Won't somebody think of the children!

  9. As a teacher I was seconded to an equivalent management role in industry for a year. What a cake walk! Whenever you undertook a new task you handed the old one over to someone else. If you wanted a coffee break you took one. You had time for lunch. You took holidays when you wanted. Duvet days were not a problem etc etc. I kept my bosses busy because I kept finishing tasks in a day instead of the week they expected. Ex industry types who go into teaching invariably say that it is more pressured, stressful, work intense than their previous careers. An ex test pilot commented that teaching was more stressful because it was less predictable and controllable. I am retired now - I burnt out at 57, took a reduced pension but do not regret it. The idea of teaching post 60 is for the majority just plain silly. There are always exceptions but it should be an option, not compulsory.

  10. I am a mother and grandmother, and I support the teacher's wholeheartedly. Be strong, and never give in. People power will win !!

  11. The most important thing to realise that without teachers there would be no professionals anywhere, ever. Who taught the people who go on to become Drs, Designers, Engineers, Scientists etc? At some point it was teachers.
    As an ex teacher I can tell you that the perceived working hours are myth and fallacy. Next time you are at a school Summer Fete, Christmas Carol Service, or any of the out of hours events teachers have to work. Think about that, they are all surplus to their contracted hours and compulsory.
    I know many teachers who will not strike out of fear of reprisals. It also seems to be common practice that many managers are Union Reps.
    I've always thought this was unfair, to have your union rep taking staff attendance registers on the day of a strike. That surely undermines the system.

    1. I've not long been home, late on a Friday evening... tonight was the year 7 school disco. Well worth it when you spend time with the lovely kids but nobody can ever understand what it's like unless they have experienced it. I support all my colleagues in all professions to stand up for themselves and fight for their rights, I'm seriously concerned about a profession that is crumbling under ever increasing pressure.

  12. The low pay comes in respone to the long holidays. There are only 2 other professions that get similar amount of time off, one public sector and the other private, the private sector is people who work on oil rigs who have severla weeks on rigs and then several weeks back home resting. The other public sector profession is the army, where you tyically have 36 months active duty and then 3 months off. bOth do just as hard f not harder work and in the case of the ar,y are less paid

    1. I'm no expert but the army website says "Within five years you could reach the rank of Sergeant and earn up to £33,702" which I think is comparable to teachers and that is for a normal soldier. It also says "Your salary will increase annually as your career continues, regardless of promotion " but let's leave that for another day. (The website I used was

      In both cases people tend to be less qualified (I'm not sure who you count as working on oil rigs but my cousin is an engineer on an oil rig in the US and used to be on one in the North Sea and trust me she was substantially better paid than me.) To be a teacher you need a degree and then a year of post graduate study. You then work longer hours during term time which off sets some of the holidays. We're not asking for better conditions, just not worse conditions.

    2. anyone who knows a bit about the army would know that a sergent is the highest rank a private can rise to (a non-commisioned rank). It takes years to get to that level. The starting pay is 17,000 for a private which is a lot lower then the average starting salery for a teacher. For a junior office the pay is 24k which is only slightly more then a teacher starting salery and teachers dont get shot up daily. Oil workers of course work for the private sector and can get paid what they command, and remember the enitre lifestyle we led is based around oil so without them we wouldnt have a modern life, remember that, also geology is my job, I know people who work on the rigs and they often have 24 hours sifts followed by small amounts of rest before another 24 hours shift

    3. "and remember the enitre lifestyle we led is based around oil so without them we wouldnt have a modern life" err yes but education is something which no one needs.

      Yes I appreciate I am not risking my life on a daily basis... but again I have a degree which means when the soldiers you are talking about were earning £17000 I was at university picking up debt. 4 years later I could have qualified after accumulating a lot of debt. (I actually didn't, I did admin work for a year and as I said I was a cover supervisor before I became a teacher)

      I am not going to argue that soldiers are well paid for what they do, I don't think they are. That doesn't mean other people should be badly paid as some twisted equality. And again we're not saying we want to be better paid than we are... just not worse paid.

    4. This doesn't have to be a pissing contest about who is treated worst. The point is that teachers work incredibly hard and are constantly portrayed as being lazy by the government and certain quarters of the media.

      Whether that happens to anyone else or not, is irrelevant. The point is that it shouldn't happen to anyone. It's happening to teachers, so decent people should want to stick up for them.

      I am usually very much against striking and don't like arguments about money, for the most part. However, I have a massive problem with smearing hardworking people's names.

      My other half is a teacher. She gets up at 6.20am every day and doesn't finish till 8 or 9 most nights. Yes, teachers get about 6 weeks extra holiday per year or whatever it is. However, I'd estimate 4-5 of those weeks are spent marking and planning so in real terms there is virtually no difference. When you take into account that all teachers will do marking most weekends, there's no difference at all.

      Teachers should be treated as extremely high value employees by the community at large, alongside doctors, police etc. They shouldn't be totally misrepresented and disrespected.

  13. You have to carry books and stand on desks to pin up displays? - wow, i didn't realise how labour intensive the job really is.. Why not get a trolley to put the books on, and get over the fact you have to pin things up. A builder has to lift paving slabs come rain or shine.

    A lot of people in the private sector don't even get a pension, you rarely see us complaining - we're grateful to have a job. There have to be cuts as the government can't afford to pay public sector workers so much anymore, people are being made redundant in other sectors, average pay is going down, why are you such a special case? Are the working conditions for prison officers 'nice'? If you don't like it do something else like everyone else - you're not born and bred 'teacher' and if you were you wouldn't be protesting. As explained in a previous comment there are thousands of people who would be better at the job, and be very grateful for the excellent benefits, and stop walking out of their jobs whilst everyone else is at work causing a logistical nightmare.

    If you're standing up for education (which you're clearly not, merely saying this so it doesn't look selfish), why not protest about changes in education policy, not your pay and benefits. No one cares about your pay, they're more concerned about when they're going to get any payrise at all, and more then 20 days annual leave, and a pension...

    I fully support performance related pay, i've just finished school and there's so many rubbish and unenthusiastic teachers out there who need a kick up the arse. The good ones still get the many benefits though - any teacher who's scared of Ofsted isn't doing their best.

    1. Ok I'm going to humour you...unfortunately performance related pay is not based on how good people are at teaching but how good their results are against when they entered the school. I might be the best teacher in the world but if I get another teacher's year 10 class who have not covered enough then I will not get good results or a pay rise.

      In terms of other people's average pay going down, teachers have also had a pay freeze which means relative to inflation our pay has gone down. In the private sector their pay has started to increase as we leave the recession - but changes to teachers pay will be permanent.

      Please show me where you get this statistic that thousands of people are lining up to be teachers? Can I recommend you visit the TES jobs site (where teaching jobs are advertised) and look at maths teacher jobs. Bearing in mind most teachers change jobs at the end of the academic year I think you will be surprised how many jobs there are... maybe that's why you've been taught by "rubbish, unenthusiastic teachers", because there aren't enough good ones to go round?

      I hope this sheds some light on why teachers are striking.

    2. That's a bizarre way of running performance related pay! Your remuneration committee needs to go and look at how industry and commerce do it, and have been doing it for donkey's years.

      I had a conversation the other day where a teacher was saying they did not want performance related pay, and five minutes later told me how the older teachers were working very hard, but some of the new younger ones don't put in the hours and don't seem to care. That is what happens with pay scales that don't reflect performance.

    3. I like the way you think my school has a remuneration committee. I think officially schools were meant to have details for performance related pay by the start of the Summer term this year but we have not heard anything.

      As such I am just working off how they decide if someone is meeting targets, which are entirely based on something like ALPs, ALIS, FFT and all of these are based on progress from entering the school rather than entering your teaching.

      And you know what the longer I teach the better I get at picking up misconceptions (because I have met more of them) and I get better at explaining things (because I have explained them before and found better / more engaging / clearer ways to explain them). I have also completed more CPD and know the specifications better.

      I am working in a sixth form college which is financially stretched (because the government does not offer sixth form colleges many of the financial advantages that schools with sixth forms get) and the college is always on the look out for ways of saving money. I am afraid I don't share your faith in their even handed approach to pay.

    4. Under the new system the top and bottom of the main pay scale will be set country wide for now (I expect this to go shortly). the middle bands will be decided by the school which means by governors. Governors are essential to all state schools but are volunteers - they may be experienced in the area of deciding pay reviews but when I served 10 years as a governor I had no educational experience at all and no experience of deciding pay awards. Equally a school has a central budget available for paying teachers from government - this is fixed. If a teacher deemed to be outstanding is awarded extra money, someone must receive less, you cannot apply to government for extra funds. All of the teachers in my school are deemed good or outstanding - so do we take from the good teachers to give to the outstanding teachers? We have also not had sight of a pay policy yet and have no idea how we will be measured - this is also to be decided by the governors at school level,

    5. Your board of governors should reflect a range of experience. You should have some with experience of pay systems, who will form your remuneration committee. Instead of paying scale increases based on length of service, some will get more and some will get less. Go and talk to some local businesses if there is insufficient experience in the board. It's not a totally new concept in a capitalist country!

    6. Do not humour this person. Clearly s/he let the education system down by being unbearably narrow minded and therefore learnt nothing as the blinkers were on far too tightly.

  14. I support the teachers all the way. I qualified as a teacher years ago and chose to go into the corporate world instead of following a career in teaching, partly due to the long work hours and lack of respect or support from the government. What people fail to see is that the 9-3 hours that everyone thinks a teacher works are the hours where they are physically teaching children. A good teacher will spend hours planning, marking, making resources, wall displays, setting up classes, all are done in a teachers own time. I moved into corporate learning and development and am now a global manager, the hours are long and the work demanding, - but I feel no more stressed now than I did as a 22 year old newly qualified teacher facing the demands of the national curriculum, OFSTED and moreso the expectations of parents and outsiders. - the difference is that now, if I have a 'quiet day' I can switch off and take it easy, I can work my own hours and I can command a far higher salary than I ever could as a teacher - most importantly, I work with adults who (although debatable) I am not expected to teach behaviour, manners, values and social acceptability as I was as a teacher. As parents, we expect teachers to educate and care for our children, we expect them to provide our children with the means to learn to the best of their ability and are the first to point the finger if we dont think this provision is being made - so why would we not come out in support of them protecting their own rights to keep them in the profession. I owe my self-belief and education not only to my parents but also to my teachers, the fact that over 30 years later I can still name my teachers and pick out those who were 'good' , 'bad' and exceptional shows what an impact those people had on my life and that cannot be underestimated. We should be showing the government that we support our teachers, backing their cause and ensure that they are rewarded for educating the next generations of lawyers, policemen, soldiers, doctors, scientists, builders, parents - all of whom make our country what it is today ..

  15. I am now teaching in China and really appreciate the hard-working and respectful students I now teach. Chinese teachers do work long hours 7.30 to 5.30 but they have long lunch hours where it is quite respectable nay compulsory to have a nap. All assessments are mutliple choice and so easy to mark. I rarely see my Chinese colleagues do any marking of the sort that UK teachers are expected to. They have almost no discipline problems in the class room. In science the amount of lab work undertaken by the pupils is perhaps 2 or 3 practicals a term and they only have two terms. In a UK school lab work is almost every lesson for the younger pupils and at least once a week for older students and that is not including the demonstrations by the teacher. If Michael Gove is so in awe of Asian education systems he needs to take into account the differences which make the longer contact hours in school sustainable. Why do you think that so many Chinese parents send their children overseas to be educated and are now opening up international departments in their state schools? It is because they see the value in our system, the creativity it encourages, the ability to problem solve, the practical approach to science, the independent learning. A system which requires tremendous input from highly qualified and experienced teachers if it is to be at its best. We should be paying teachers more and giving them less contact time so that they can produce the best lessons possible and not be too tired to teach them.

  16. Reading the blog and the comments on here seems to have inspired some more positive thinking...

  17. To all the teachers reading this. You have my 100% support. Fight for your salaries. Never mind pay freezes and pension hikes. You deserve gold all the way. Good luck.

  18. Someone above posted about teachers earning less than minimum wage. This is something my manager (top end of the pay scale plus £1000 managerial honorarium) worked out once. She added up all of the hours she did for a whole month. Her salary = £2.30 an hour. A Joke considering she is a head of department in a top 10% college.

    As for myself and my partner we have left teaching and I urge others to do the same. I now do 35 hours a week (not 35 at work and 35 at home) and secured a pay increase over teaching. What we found is that companies really appreciate the transferable skills teachers have. In my new job I have less admin to do, yet I now have an assistant to help me with it. Perhaps this is the answer, instead of giving teachers a pay increase give them a hand - 1 Personal Assistant per teacher. We may then have time to ourselves some evening. I was finding I was working all night until 12am every night and 1 day at the week end for a yearly rolling contract which was going to be renewed year on year until one of my colleagues retired before getting a permanent contract. So do it, leave the profession, it doesn't care about you. I am so much happier and love my job now, I feel valued, respected and can afford to live and have time to live. I expect in 10 years time the government will come begging for us to return anyway.

    1. Err are you sure you mean £2.30 an hour? Unless my maths is wrong if she worked 24 hours a day 365 days a year she would earn...

      2.3 x 24 x 365 = £20,148

      That doesn't sound top of any teaching pay scale.

  19. The last annual report of the Teachers' Pension Fund (which is on the internet) shows a deficit of £200bn. If you want support get your facts right, and stop talking about a 'pension pot', as it is an unfunded scheme. This scheme has been in deficit as long as I can remember and, as you will see from the annual report and accounts, is bailed out by the taxpayer every year.

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Edited due to typo,
      This is from my pay packet. You can decide if we don't deserve the pension or if teaching is a well paid profession.
      I have A levels, degree, PGCE, and have just completed MLDP which is the qualification required to be a middle leader in education. 5 years in total.
      Industry experience - 6 years, teaching experience 6 years.
      Gross Pay 2461
      Pension - 194
      tax 295
      student loan 115
      N.I - 189
      Net Pay - 1666

      How many who complain about their own crap pension pay £200 a month into a pension fund? (it is predicted i will receive 7-7.5k P/A in today's terms when I draw it)
      Is £415 a week a good wage for the level of qualification, experience and responsibility?
      Put in perspective, a friend of mine, no qualifications to speak of, not even GCSE's, less than a years work experience at 29 years old and works minimum wage receives take home wages and benefits to a tune of £360 a week.

  21. "While Gove would like to maintain that teachers waltz in at 9, leave at 3, and sun themselves on beaches for six weeks in the summer the reality is very different." Could we have a source reference for this assertion, as I would be very surprised if he has ever maintained such a rediculous notion.. Why not 'Mr Gove'; impoliteness does not help your case

    1. I agree with your comment on the pension being wrong however I do feel that Michael Gove does not appreciate the time teachers spend and the work life balance of a teacher during term time.

      For example "Asked about the potential impact on teachers, he replied: ‘If you love your job then there is, I think, absolutely nothing to complain about in making sure you have more of a chance to do it well.’

      (I admit this is from a Daily Mail article and I agree with the Daily Mail about as often as I agree with Michael Gove but it's the first example I could find.)

  22. Gove speaks a load of rubbish most of the time and he is unrealistic! But I do agree with performance related pay for teachers when teaching support staff have to meet this and support staff are paid so very poorly no where near what teachers get paid!

  23. If teachers had the respect from the kids they teach (and their parents) maybe the job would be easier. Society failing, no-one respects anyone any more and it's sad, kids think they can do what they want, say what they want and parents seem to let them. Surely parents should be their child's best teachers.... Show them things, places teach them spelling and reading and writing, teach them how to behave, to respect themselves and others. Let teachers simply teach subjects (and to try and cater for 30 different abilities within one group)!)

  24. Apologies for the terrible grammar!

  25. Before I became a teacher I worked as a construction engineer. I've worked on massive projects under a lot of pressure. I earned almost double what I earn now. However, it wasn't for me. I found myself lost at times, from a satisfaction point of view. I decided to become a teacher because I wanted to 'give something back'. I had a tough childhood and but for my teachers I'd never have become what I had. In fact, my teachers saved me from going down a wrong path. I was very lucky. Now, I teach maths. I really care for my students. I share with them not only my knowledge of maths but also my experiences as an engineer. I want them to succeed, not just in maths and education but as young people going forward as adults. I can honestly state that after a day's work, having dealt with about 150 children, I am exhausted. I work harder now than I ever did as an engineer. I love my job. I believe that Gove's tampering with education is very dangerous. I know there are many teachers who will leave this profession should things keep going this way. These are teachers who really care about children. I do not want to leave teaching but I find myself feeling the same. It's not about the money. I can say that first hand. This has never been about the money. Teachers physically cannot do any more. They are not looking for more. They are just saying they simply cannot do any more. What a shame this man is wrecking something so important just to raise his own profile.

    1. I totally agree, thank you for putting it so well, and so many like you. My husband has taught for 18 years and loves the job, but physically cannot sustain it anymore. He is only 39, and has3 children and a wife (me) He has always given 100% but teachers and pupils are not machines, and Gove needs to recognise this. Apart from the health implications, I seriously worry about the narrow way education is going. I really hope all teachers, headteachers and support staff unite over this and reform what has become an unsustainable profession.

  26. Standing all day! Standing on desks to pin up displays! Author did right not to credit themselves - name a teacher who marks work standing up - and get a step ladder - that particular paragraph had me in stitches

    Just what is this strike about anyway? I am only asking as all of the other comments are about the teachers - not about the education system, the schools, or the kids. So any justification for strike cannot be about anything else (ref-the bullet points) because if you gave teachers a sweeter deal, then the strike would be off the table

    Ok so its about the teachers, I am not a teacher, but have been told I am retiring at 68, I am not happy about it either - but I am not about to undermine every other profession in the land by trying to sort my own out with a better deal. Ditto national insurance, Pension, working hours etc. And justify that by saying my job is special, its not - and I know where the border is if/when I have had enough

    Gove, Gove is a tw*t he got where he is because of a bigger problem, please focus your efforts on that, or live with it, or run for the border. Please don't take it out on the kids/parents/end user of the system/customer

    1. Who is meant to pay for the step ladders, where should they be kept (not in my classroom without a cupboard with my 5 year olds!), and how far are we meant to carry them? Or we could just stand on a table and get it done. We're not trying to take it out on our children. I am sure most of them will be very happy to spend another day with a parent, those who can. If we have a teacher shortage that will have a bigger negative impact on children.

  27. If the price of the government not interfering in teachers' jobs were that state schools were abolished and replaced with deregulation and a voucher system, would you choose that instead of the current system?

  28. Tommy Tee, striking is not "taking it out on the kids" or on anyone else, for that matter. It is a desperate measure (and a financial sacrifice) to stand up to the bullies who are demoralising and demotivating a community of hard working people by belittling their existence (as most of us would agree, teaching is not simply what you do, it is also a huge part of who you are). Of course it is not good that kids will miss out on a day's lessons and many parents will be inconvenienced for the day, but we believe that this is a small price to pay for the defence of the education system- surely it is better that in the long run, children will have access to an interesting, relevant and varied education, delivered by people who still have the energy, enthusiasm and motivation to do so?

    1. I fully support you in this-I'm afraid there is a terrible amount of ignorance regarding the teaching profession.

  29. Can I ask a genuine question where does performance related pay come in? Like every profession there are those teachers who give 100% work late into the evenings at weekends during holidays but there are also those who are poor performers who lack drive and do the bare minimum it would be wrong to suggest that all teaching staff are superb dedicated talented individuals I think we all have come across those who we wonder why they bothered entering the profession. So my question is will performance related pay mean those who give their all will be rewarded for doing so and those who don't won't? Will this act as a motivator like all other professions who have to have yearly appraisals?

    1. Those who give 100% AND can show that their children make expected progress with 20% or more making good or better progress will get to keep their salaries. We will be rewarded by maintaining our salaries. Those don't get their children to make enough progress may have their salary cut. I don't want to work in a culture like this. Those who worry and fret and feel extra stress all academic year and into the summer holiday will probably be those who don't need to, but we will worry and stress and fret even more. Those who aren't performing well should be picked up by the headteacher and offered support, perhaps eventually towards another profession. Children are not tins of beans. This whole system encourages us to ignore the 'every child matters' mantra and target teach those who will make the most progress. And will discourage take up at schools with lower achieving children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

      All the comments about NC not being an issue... Gove called 100 academics a 'blob', who joined together, mostly from the field of education, to make a statement of objection about the new National Curriculum and ignored them. I replied to the two open forums on the draft national curriculums. My views were down played (maths) and the objections to the history curriculum were not presented adequately at all, with each one being accompanied by the tag that it was campaign-led. Because the new history curriculum is totally nonsensical and age inappropriate. This is why, probably, that we are not roaring about the new NC. We've done that and it didn't make an impact. Mostly. Column methods in Year 3 after all the maths experts they worked with presented evidence-based reasons why not to do this, and the Ofsted 20 best schools in maths said most of them delayed formal methods and almost all didn't teach long division at all. I am so thankful for all of the support of here, but really sad that so many people who really don't get our jobs have been so mean. We need to publicise our grievances more clearly, though I know some will still make it into an us and them clash. We are arguing for ourselves and our children. Lots of teachers want to walk. Most of them probably won't because of our children. But we need to be given time to get back to teaching, and a bit of credibility.

    2. We've had yearly appraisals for years. They so far haven't meant a reduction in salary but success in meeting targets have been essential for moving onto the upper pay scale levels, where they get stuck for most of us who want to carry on being classroom based.

  30. Please sign this petition if you think Gove should be gone:

  31. I wonder what Ken Robinson thinks...

  32. At least there's still something to smile about. Satirical book having a little dig at Mr Gove:

  33. Whilst I agree with some of the points raised, the comparison of the pension/pay freeze relating to a 15% paycut does not hold much sympathy from me. In my private sector job I haven't had a pay increase in 6 years, at 3% a time, that an 18% pay cut. This is however the job that I chose to do, and I am happy in the current climate especially to even have a job. Just because you are a public sector worker this does not give you the right to expect and get annual payrises when everyone else doesn't. Many people work as many hours, with less holidays (yes, yes I know) for less pay and are grateful for the work. There is an aspect of "you chose this job, so stop moaning about it".

  34. Fair point Vicky, but your argument reminds me a bit of the old adage of either 'put up or shut up' which I think is a bit worrying. I've lived with a teacher for 18 years, he is an excellent husband, father-of-three, and is now simply burnt out, having had to support me in my illness for the last 8 years. If you had walked in his shoes, or any of the other teachers who have commented on this site, especially those who have worked in industry too, I think you would understand more, and not see it as moaning, but simply standing up for what is right.
    I for one am glad that there are always people who will 'moan' as you put it, as this has stopped slavery, apartheid and hopefully Nazism. But with Gove about the latter is questionable!

  35. This is an interesting debate i stumbled upon...
    The only thing i would like to throw into the mix - people talking about "working outside of their normal hours". I'm sorry, what? Surely people have realised that in the current economic / working / whatever climate you have to put the "extra mile" in? As others have mentioned, we are (stuck) in a climate where if you don't want to do the work that needs to be done, someone else will (even for cheaper). if there are parts of your job that need to be done, you just have to get them done - no matter whose time that is on...

    Case in point over here. i am an events, bar & restaurant manger. I have a degree, related work qualifications and over 10 years experience. A quiet week for me is 70-80 hours - all of which is spent on my feet. Lunch is non existent (i serve everyone else theirs) and please don't even get me started on my legal entitlement to a break during my shift. I regularly (ie 3/4 times a week) pull 16 hour days just to get everything done. I get paid a salary, and no over time. I have no pension, and basically the only "benefits" i get from my job are free beer and toilet paper...

    example. its currently 12.15am, i have been at work since 8.30am, and i have just finished writing next months menus. throughout the entire day, want to guess how many hours i spent at least sitting down? 30mins.

    As my contract states, my hours are "related to the needs of the business". Surely teachers are the same? If you know that come end of term, there might be a shit load of marking to do, you do the marking and be done.

    basically what im tying to say, is shit happens and we all have to deal with it. my industry is being screwed 10 times as badly as the education industry, and i dont get to strike. Hell, if i went on strike do you know what would happen? i wouldn't have a job to return to.

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