The fabric of Britain as we know it is being ripped apart. So much is changing, almost behind our backs, we haven't got time to notice what is happening to us. And it is happening fast.

Monday, 12 December 2011

But What About The Children??

Spend any time with parents and eventually the discussion will get around to education. Whatever your view on the public vs private debate and wherever you stand on the subject of religious schools, the one thing we all agree on is the need for good, committed teachers.
Teaching is a fine profession and one that can bring great job satisfaction. But as one who has spent a dozen years at the chalk face can attest, it’s not a job for the faint hearted. The hours are long, everything you do is subject to public scrutiny, the goal posts are constantly changing and the risk to physical and mental health is high.
So how do we tempt our brightest and best into teaching? This is how the government proposes it should be done. First, insist on an undergraduate degree. That’s £9,000 per year for a minimum of three years, plus living expenses. Even living at home and walking to university, our potential teacher would be lucky to graduate with £40,000 worth of debt. Add more to that if they choose to live away from home or live in a large city like London.
Once our potential teacher has graduated with the requisite 2:1 they need to spend another year doing a PGCE. That’s another £9,000 in fees. Gone are the days when PGCEs were fully funded. Add to that the living costs. This is where it gets a bit more expensive. PGCE students spend time in schools. They need appropriate clothing, three years below the poverty line has probably decimated their wardrobe, and travel costs. Often the placement schools are drawn from a wide area. Let’s be generous and assume a penny pinching student could get by with £10,000 for the year. Their debt is now at around £60,000.
Hurray!! Our newly minted teacher is now ready to start work. The starting salary for a teacher is £21,588. Of course, as the starting salary is over £21,000 they will have to start paying back their loan immediately. The take home pay, once tax and student loan has been taken out is £16,448.92. That’s approximately £1,370 per month. Not bad really, liveable, unless you live in a big city. London teachers earn a little more, £27,000 per year, which works out as £1636 per month. Not a bad wage, I agree, but bear in mind that the average cost of a room in a shared flat in London is around £700 per month and a zone 1-5 travel card will cost you £205.10 a month, that leaves our young teacher with £731 a month to eat, entertain and save for the future with.
Ahh, saving for the future. We forgot about that. Let’s take our fictional London teacher. If they decide to opt into the Teacher’s Pension fund they will currently pay in 6.4% of their salary. That’s another £144 off the monthly wages, leaving them with £587 a month. Should the Govt’s pension reforms go through, instead of 6.4% the contribution would rise to 8% leaving our fictional teacher with £551 per month to live on.
So, that’s 4 years of study, £60,000 plus debt. A debt that, after 30 years will still not be paid off. This government has a history of changing the goalposts. Just ask anyone who pays into a public sector pension. There are no guarantees that the 30 year limit or the percentage of the earnings to be paid back will not change. And all for £551 a month to feed and clothe yourself. How are you going to save for a future or, heaven forfend, have children with that?
Our brightest and best are not stupid. They will look at the figures, do the calculations, and opt out. Teaching used to be a job with prospects. Not any more.

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  1. Well said. Teaching is THE most important job and we should be trying to encourage the best graduates. No teachers = no doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, politicans...
    It is also one of the least valued jobs both financially (when compared with jobs with equivalent hours, training and responsibility) and generally. I am sure many good graduates are also put off when they see how teachers are regarded by the significant proportion of the population who believe the government and media's portrayal. And I would like to encourage anyone believes that crap about 'free' pensions and a nice easy 9 -3 job with weekends and school holidays off to give it a go and see how long they last.

  2. I wholeheartedy support teachers and very sad to see that the profession will inevitably be attracting fewer and fewer bright and inspiring people.

    Our children are our future. It is so shortsighted to disinvest in them.

  3. froth froth froth

    so bloody shortsighted and STUPID

    Oh...and pay peanuts, you get...


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