Michael Gove was happy to assert today on Andrew Marr’s BBC breakfast show that teachers are receiving the highest salaries ever in the new Academies. That is quite a startling claim and belies what we know otherwise.
Getting to the truth of this claim, is tough because Michael Gove opposes publishing the salaries of teachers, therefore enabling him to assert that Academy salaries are higher without fear of contradiction.
This is how it used to work. A published payscale determined what teachers were paid. This scale took care of all considerations: qualification, length of service and responsibility. There was also a discretionary element that allowed head teachers to reward teachers they wished to retain. There were limits to this so it could not get out of hand, and local authorities had a statutory duty to control these matters.
This is how it now works with the free market spirit of the new “Academies”. Control of the school budget is taken away from the local authority and placed in the hands of private directors, of private companies. These private directors are handsomely rewarded and will occasionally travel to school by first class at the tax payers expense, and where they decide how huge sums of public money is spent on education including the salaries of teachers. These private companies are highly secretive, and they are not contractually obliged to open their books to public scrutiny.
This is what has happened to the traditional pay scale for teachers. Head teachers got younger and their pay was increased substantially; as much as doubled or even more. To save money and balance the budgets they were inclined to sack the best teachers, or the teachers on the high end of the traditional payscale. These actions were frequently unlawful and crude and the new young head teachers found themselves in court, and then subsequently had to find large sums of public money to pay out in compensation.
These teachers were replaced by cheaper, younger, less experienced newly qualified teachers, or even unqualified teachers. Furthermore, the “teaching” of core subjects by unqualified teacher assistants, became commonplace.
It is not at all uncommon for the majority of core lessons to be supervised by unqualified staff.
So how was Michael Gove able to assert that teacher salaries had risen in the new Academies? Unfortunately, Andrew Marr did not ask him that question, so he got away with it.
It may be that in this age of whistle blowing, the highly paid director’s secrecy may be compromised by the publication of accounts, and the confidential minutes of private meetings. Particularly when these private companies masquerade as a philanthropic charities.