How rich are teachers?

With the details of the 2016 School Workforce Survey still awaited, we have to turn to data on salaries from the 2015 Survey, effectively reflecting pay during the 2014-15 school-year. Using the published data from the DfE, it looks as if some 8,700 of the 484,000 teachers, where the State pays their salary and the figure was disclosed, earned more than £70,000 at the reporting point. This is the figure that makes you rich if Labour is to be believed. In total that represents just 2% of the teacher workforce. However, we cannot know how many of the 22,900 with unknown salaries, earn more than £70,000. But, since over half of those where the salary was unknown were younger than 30, they are unlikely to be amongst the highest paid teachers.

By contrast to the top 2%, some two thirds of employed teachers earned less than £40,000 at the census date in 2015. They are unlikely to have seen much of a pay rise since then. The top 2% earning more than £70,000 include teachers working in London, as the summary data takes no account of the extra salary paid to teachers working in the capital; presumably because of higher costs, especially housing. It was interesting that Labour when making the announcement about taxation didn’t have anything to say about workers in London. Presumably Labour believes you are still rich in London if you earn £70,000?

Of course, pay is a crude measure of rewards, as Labour found with its pay policies in the 1970s. Too draconian an anti-high pay regime and employers turn to non-monetary benefits. The cult of the company car owes a lot to pay policies in the 1970s, a period when teachers’ non-monetary benefits came to be seriously eroded compared with those of other workers.

Public sector pay, including that for teachers, may well become an issue in the general election campaign once everyone has decided where they stand on Europe and the Tories hard BREXIT stance. I suspect many voters already know how that issue will influence their voting, especially where there are local elections and it has already been discussed on the doorsteps, as it has in my part of Oxford. Voters will want something else to talk about over the next seven weeks.

The issue is whether the many young teachers, increasingly saddled with big student loan debts and trying to build their lives, feel well off? I suspect most don’t, especially in high cost areas outside of London, of which Oxford is one. How much of the increase in jobs for teachers is due to large numbers quitting the profession: we don’t know, but with other opportunities on offer why wouldn’t you, especially if workload and low morale are affecting how you see your job.

Perhaps the political party offering most on improving workload, CPD and morale might win the teachers’ vote this time around. Here’s what the 2015 Lib Dem offer was in 2015:

Guarantee all teachers in state-funded schools will be fully qualified or working towards Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) from September 2016

  • Introduce a clear and properly funded entitlement to professional development for all teachers
  • Raise the bar for entry to the profession, requiring a B grade minimum in GCSE maths and English
  • Establish a new profession-led Royal College of Teachers, eventually to oversee QTS and professional development.
  • Continue to support the Teach First programme
  • Establish a new National Leadership Institute

So certainly room for more this time around, especially on workload pressure; retaining teachers in the classroom and making everyone working in education feel properly valued as a public servant.

Readers are reminded that for the past four years I have been the Lib Dem spokesperson on education on Oxfordshire County Council.



Don’t tax renewables

There is a device in the House of Commons called an Early Day Motion whereby  MPs can express a view on a particular topic relating to any subject you can think of and probably a few that wouldn’t ever have occurred to you, such as Carnwath Primary School’s lottery grant and local newspapers in South London. However, some EDMs are important and deserve to garner support from a large number of our elected representatives in order to show the strength of feeling on a topic.

One such that has all-party support is EDM 491 on business rates and solar power. The gist of the EDM is that the supporters of the EDM;

expresses deep concern at the changes to the rateable value of rooftop photovoltaic solar panels being proposed by the Valuation Office Agency, which may result in a six to eight-fold increase in the business rate charges to businesses, community groups and schools for the use of their own rooftop solar across the UK; notes the popularity, importance and affordability of solar power; and calls on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for Communities and Local Government and HM Treasury to take action to prevent unexpected and extreme business rate rises for solar… 

It does seem odd that schools trying to keep down costs and perhaps generate a small amount of feed-in tariff should have to contemplate turning off their PV panels because it might cost them more to operate them than to either turn them off or even remove them.

According to a video from Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, the situation is even more ludicrous as she states in the video that private schools would not pay the additional tax – presumably where they are charities? If this is the case, then why not exempt all non-income generating public buildings such as schools from any change to business rates. However, I would go further and support the ban on any form of tax on renewables anywhere as counterproductive to their essential purpose to help reduce greenhouses gases and the use of Carbon Dioxide.

If you agree, please email you local MP and ask them to either sign the EDM or explain why they think it is a good idea to tax renewable energy sources in schools? You might ask your professional association what stance they take on the EDM.

I am also interested in the use of asphalt covered playgrounds as a source of ground source heat generation. After all, these open spaces are probably left uncovered for 99% of the year. Providing a low cost form of installation can be devised playgrounds should offer a good potential source of low-level heat generation. Perhaps a university School of Education could team up with one of the science departments in the university to devise a viable scheme that could be installed over a summer holiday period?