Monday, 4 May 2015

Pay Me My Money Down

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Questions to NOT to ask at dinner parties:
  1. Who do you vote for?
  2. Are you religious?
  3. How much do you get paid?
Recently there was a release of Sony emails by the WikiLeaks website <here>. Some of these contained Bruce Springsteen's contract details with album expectations up until 2027. Plus his payment; a cool $101m. 

I'm a massive Springsteen fan, and one of the reasons I admire him most (apart from the music) is his work ethic, especially for a 65 year old. On top of this, he has a seeming ability to still appear like a normal, everyday guy; popping into bars and shops in NJ, helping out neighbours and local charity events and so on. I've no doubt he was embarrassed, as we would all be, for the world to find out exactly what he earns.

Admittedly, it is no surprise to most that it is indeed a pretty hefty pay cheque and he also appears on various 'Rich Lists'. It wouldn't be impossible to conceive he earns a few quid each year.

This got me thinking about teacher salaries. Due to published pay scales, in the past, it has been relatively easy to work out, at least approximately, what teachers were being paid as a base salary. If you had some idea when someone started in the profession, you could pretty much work it out. Also many people openly spoke about being on M4 or M5, U1 or U3. You also needed to factor in London weighting. These were tied to teacher standards, at least giving some idea of the responsibility of teachers at different stages of their career.

Obviously some schools are now moving away from these pay scales, although the new schools budgets may stop the 'pay what you like' culture that many thought may happen. PPR is still 'to be fully realised' and I am sure there will be as many restrictions on pay as schools can get away with as they try to count the pennies, in the hope of saving the pounds.
TLRs and the Leadership scale starts to make things less clear. They can also be the things that can cause problems:
  • How much extra is someone being paid to do their job?
  • To what extent does that pay increase their responsibility?
  • What should the rest of us expect them to do for us as a result of their higher pay?
  • Am I paid enough to do this extra work for others?
Teaching is generally a vocation, but the money is important. Especially given the workload, stress and sometimes out of pocket costs. I think also some people see their additional payment as a reason to do something or not to do something. I don't like this idea, but it happens, and it is not always challenged. Although on the other hand, to what extent should we expect people to do things for the greater good? For the "love of the kids?"

I now effectively have two TLRs (although I don't, as you can't). One for being Assistant Subject Leader in RE and one for being Head of Year 10. Both roles are demanding in their own way and I feel I earn every extra pound that I am paid... and I'd probably be able to put forward the case for a few more. Yet I do neither job for the money. However, unlike Mr Springsteen, my contract does not fully spell out exactly what I need to do. I need to get the job done, whatever that takes, and there is potentially a big variety between getting the job done and getting it done well. What if I decide to do something extra? I certainly won't get paid for that.

However there is often a difficult lack of point of reference in schools. It is very hard to say exactly what is your job and what isn't. To what extent do I get involved in issue A? Do I try to sort out issue B? Is issue C better dealt with by person X? Why? 

Payment in teaching is a funny situation. Our contracts don't work like Springsteen's as we are not global superstars. Do we do things out of professionalism, care for our students and love of the job? Absolutely. Does higher payment mean greater responsibility? Of course. How much? Who knows... 

Pay Me My Money Down, a working song that originated among the Negro stevedores working in the Georgia Sea Islands. Here is it being sung by Bruce in his house:

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