Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100-113)|
WEDNESDAY 6 MARCH 2002
100. Is anyone suggesting that? The fact is
that you and many unions have campaigned for years and years to
have a GTC
(Mr Smith) Absolutely.
101.And surely it will take time for
a new organisation or professional body to find its role?
(Mr Smith) I think that is perfectly fair, and I think
we are in a period of settling down and working out how cohabitation
102. However honourable your colleagues and
other unions are, there is the word on the street, is there not,
that there are some wrecking tactics going on at the moment. What
is the fee for the GTC for a teacher?
(Mr Smith) Certainly not from my organisation
103. It is £23, is it not?
(Mr Smith) £33.
104. And we hear that some of the unions do
not think that their members, if they are part-timers, can afford
£33, is that right?
(Mr Smith) There is a problem about a pro rata feeI
think it is a marginal problem, quite honestly. The view that
my organisation takes is that our members should be encouraged
to pay the required registration fee and I think it would be a
humiliation to the profession if, ultimately, the GTC had to rely
upon its power to enforce payment. That would not, to me, send
a good message to the public generally or, indeed, members of
other professions like doctors or lawyers or chartered accountants
or surveyors or whoever.
105. Moving on to the questions of performance
management and the new pay threshold, what are your comments on
how the system was introduced with the £2,000 jump up and,
secondly, how it is going to operate now and in the future?
(Mr Smith) Can I, first of all, deal with the threshold?
There are those who would argue that application for the threshold
was over-elaborate and time consuming and I have sympathy for
that. Having said that, the threshold established that a very
large number of teachers are performing at a satisfactory or better
level, so we have gone through that. The difficulty comes in that
the threshold was seen as, using the word in its true sense, the
gateway, the path to performance management, and a better career
structure for teachers who had passed through the threshold. My
own view was that a key factor in the threshold was that it dislocated
or decoupled what a teacher was paid from the size of the institution
in which he or she taught, so that you could be an absolutely
brilliant performer in a primary school but never earn as much
as an adequate teacher in a large secondary school, and I think
that was an important culture change to achieve. Now, if that
gateway to a reward structure career development for people in
the classroom is seen to have been no more than a con, a quick
fix, then a large number of teachers will feel deeply disillusionednot
least the 45 pluses to whom I referred earlier upon whom we crucially
rely. In other words, that the Secretary of State and the Chancellor
will need to satisfy governing bodies and heads that the money
authentically is there, and they are far short of being convinced
at the moment.
106. In terms of it being seen as a quick fix
or a con, certainly all of my former colleagues and teachers I
talk to in my constituency say that one of the big issues in the
staffroom is the fact that schools have only been given about
half of the money they need for all the people who would qualify
for promotion on this new scale. Therefore heads are going to
be faced with either robbing other parts of the school's budget,
or they are going to have to say to two people who both deserve
to get the extra money, "I will give it to you but not you",
and that is going to be incredibly divisive within schools.
(Mr Smith) All differentiating pay systems are inherently
divisive, so "divisiveness" is a word that I would like
to be removed from the lexicography of the teaching profession.
It does not seem to me to take us anywhere. The real issue is
whether heads are placed in a position where, instead of being
funded to make intelligent management decisions which can be justified,
they are put into a position where they are taking decisions which
are so arbitrary that they cannot defend them and would not wish
to take decisions that they cannot defend. Now, there is a real
issue there. Balanced against that, of course, outside the public
service certainly, there are decisions which managers have to
take which are difficult decisions, and you will please one and
disappoint another, and that is one of the responsibilities of
107. But taking issue with what you said at
the start, when the Government introduced this scheme they said
that anybody who qualifies, and passed all the applications and
the interviews and so on, will get the £2,000 increase and
progress to the bottom of the new pay scale, and then the clear
intention was that if, as a teacher, you then year-on-year or
every two or three years qualified for the next increment you
would get it but, because only half the money has now been provided,
it means that half the people who do qualify are not getting it.
When somebody sits a music exam or a driving test you do not say,
"We are going to have to fail all you lot because have not
met the quota for this week or this year". If you qualify,
you pass, and the clear intention of this new pay scale was that
good professional experienced teachers who qualified would get
paid. Half of them are not going to now. Surely that is totally
the opposite of what we were told a couple of years ago of what
the intention of the scheme was?
(Mr Smith) It is the difference between incrementality
and the expectation of incremental process and managers having
to make difficult decisions within resources which will always
be limited, but where I agree with you is that the money at the
moment is inadequate for managers to make informed, fair, equitable
108. And teachers in the staffrooms see it as
a quick fix and a con?
(Mr Smith) That is the risk.
109. That is what is happening.
(Mr Smith) Yes.
Chairman: I think members of this Committee
ought really in this sort of situation to declare their interest.
Paul Holmes: I did say I was one of the first
wave of teachers to go for the £2,000 increase, so in a recent
space of time I have been a teacher and I am still a member of
110. The momentum seems to be building up particularly
amongst the NUS and the NUT towards the creation of a single trade
union. What do you see are the barriers to achieving that goal
and objective, for want of a better expression?
(Mr Smith) Can I say, first of all, that I wholly
welcome moves towards teachers' unions working more co-operatively
together and I think the last year has shown that very powerfully.
Certainly in presenting evidence to the school teacher review
body on workload following the PricewaterhouseCoopers study, it
was the first time the five unions represented oral evidence together.
That was a first, and I think there is a wind of change going
on. Can I be very candid with you and put it this way? Within
the next five years, we know Nigel de Gruchy is retiring; I will
be retiring within the next five years; and Eamonn O'Kane, who
hates me saying this, is a caretaker general secretary because
he goes, I think I am right in saying, in 2006. In other words,
there is an opportunity there for unions to come together as against
reinforcing tribalisms and historic cultural divisions. I like
to think that ATL has been very positive about this: we have an
alliance agreement with the AUT and have mounted conferences with
them; we have submitted joint evidence with the AUT on matters
where school teachers and university lecturers can bring a common
cause. If I can be even more candid, I think that Eamonn O'Kane
in his forthcoming conference will have an argument to conduct.
I hope he succeeds in suggesting that it would be far more logical
from all points of view if the teaching profession were represented
in not so fragmented a way as it currently is. It confuses teachers;
it confuses the public; it confuses politicians; it confuses the
DfES; but my final point is it will require immense self-discipline
and courage, because compromise is where everybody goes away equally
111. One final question, Chairman, changing
the subject: the role of the local education authority has changed
or diminished quite significantly over the last 10 or 20 years.
Do you see the role of LEAs being about right, or do we need to
beef them up or get rid of them altogether?
(Mr Smith) I think the Conservative government made
a critical mistake which has been aggravated to date by your Government.
Let me put it this way: here you have a very large important public
service workforce with no human resource policy whatsoever. It
is being run like a sort of franchise where "devil take the
hindmost", and if we are talking about deploying the best
teachers in the best schoolsand by the best schools I mean
the schools that need the best teachersat the moment there
is no other mechanism for that but the market, and the market
in education does not work that way. That is not to say that the
education service is wholly inimical to being run in a wholly
business-like way so, to my mind, my organisation has consistently
said that marginalising local educational authorities was a grave
mistake and we are not learning to live with it because it is
very difficult to live with.
112. We are coming to the end of this present
session. Are there any points you came here hoping to make that
you briefly wanted to put over to the Committee, or did our questions
elicit all the points you wanted to make?
(Mr Smith) I think the Committee's forensic skills
113. Is there anything you came here hoping
we would not ask that we have not asked?
(Mr Smith) No.
Chairman: Thank you very much for your time.
A degree of co-operation has already broken out in the teaching
fraternity because David Hart, John Dunford and Kate Griffin have
agreed to come together to give their evidence in the next session.