The football transfer window closes tomorrow. This is not something that directly affects schools, but it does raise two questions in my mind. Firstly, could all this money be better used tackling (sorry for the pun) youth unemployment. It does seem somewhat obscene that a football club in Spain may well pay a world record fee for a player while youth unemployment in that country is devastating a whole generation. UK clubs have spent lavishly this summer and, although our unemployment rate isn’t as high as in Spain, I do wonder whether that cash could have been better employed in other ways. The rich are happy to indulge in buying and selling football players and indeed whole clubs while leaving many young graduates with nothing more to do than stay at home and watch an endless succession of matches from around the word. If you read the history of Liverpool and Everton football clubs you will find the suggestions that they grew out of church teams. Now the church is no longer the force it once was in society, but if we could find a way into diverting some of the transfer cash into job creation schemes it might surely do a bit more good for society. How about a transfer tax for youth job creation?
The second question is closer to home. Will the ending of the teachers’ national pay scales, like the ending of fixed wages in football all those years ago, have any effect on teachers’ pay? Perhaps the Secretary of State hopes it will depress wages, but, as I have suggested before, it might just have the opposite effect.
Even now there could well be the educational equivalent of player’s agents plotting how they will get a group of mathematics teachers together in a hotel early in 2014, and sign them up. The agent would then approach schools asking if they wanted a mathematics teacher, and how much they would pay for them. They could point out that advertising a job, and going through the recruitment and selection procedure, is both risky and expensive, and this is a cheaper option at say 5% of salaries. Perhaps Universities might see it as a way of attracting trainees to their courses, and away from School Direct by saying, ‘don’t be tied down too soon to one school’. ‘We will offer you a wider range of training and negotiate the best salary for you at the end of your training.’ It would be interesting to see how Teach First would react to such an outcome. Even those, such as history teachers, whose skills are traditionally not in short-supply might benefit from a bit of group action on pay.
The first step is discovering how supply and demand across the country might affect opportunities. Anyone interested the answer to that question might start by looking at the Report I did for the Pearson think tank almost exactly a year ago. For the position since then, you would have to contact me directly.