Last week I was elected (or the only person who would do it) to be the National union of Teacher rep in my school. We hadn't had a rep for some months and with decisions to be made about strike action it was felt we needed a rep in the school. The interesting thing was that as a group of teacher we had a long and interesting chat behind the reasons for and against strike action and, in the end, we all decided to support the strike despite us all having some misgivings.
Ultimately, from my point of view, recent pay increases have been a joke. The last teachers pay deal equated to a pay cut because inflation was significantly higher than the 1.8% we got whilst the new offer 2.45%, with decreasing amounts in subsequent years, was still in real terms a cut.
Now I understand like everyone else that times are hard at the moment, but even in the "good times", teachers pay has not seen the jumps that other public servants have received (most notably some in the NHS), so the argument that teachers are being greedy now does not hold water.
The truth is that if we want people not to consider a job in industry or commerce and consider teaching then we have to accept that going to University for four years is not a great prospect if you then get a job which means you cannot even afford to but the most basic of properties.
Of all my friends I went to University with and who did the same course as me, I earn by far the least. I am also the only one of my friends still paying off my student loans (11 years after finishing my degree, 9 years after my PGCE). Is that an incentive to enter the teaching profession ? Nobody becaome a teacher to be rich, but you might expect to have at least be free of student debt some 9 years after qualifying.
Even the NAS/UWT, a rival union, has admitted that it is paying out more than ever from its hardship fund to teachers. However, it hasn't stoped the NAS/UWT siding yet again with their friends in the Labour Party. Sadly the NAS/UWT no longer speaks for teachers but instead does whatever its Labour masters wish it to do.
When you read the news today, we can see what the government are doing to fill the gaps in recruitment that already exist. Ever rising numbers of people are employed within schools who do not have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). I was amazed last year when I was considering applying for a job at another school to see that they put on the application form "QTS is preferred but not essential", which to my mind is like British Airways advertising for a pilot and stating "Pilots license is preferred, but not essential". What sort of people do we want teaching and educating our future workforce ? Clearly paying less to unqualified people is the government's aim.
So at my school next Thursday all the NUT members are on strike, with heavy hearts and a lot of reluctance, but sadly this government has shown that it cares not one jot for the teaching profession. The strike may not be effective, but the government has to be told. Many other groups such as pro hunting groups, anti war groups and the fire service have all made grand shows of causing disruption, but the only way for teachers to do this is to strike. What a shame this has had to happen.