In view of the latest revelations from the headteacher of Spalding Grammar School on the fact that the school may be facing six days of closure due to an impending strike by staff because of a pay dispute, I am eager to make sure that a few points are highlighted before the ritual “teacher bashing” begins.
The teaching staff at Spalding Grammar seem to have been forced into taking this drastic step because the school has refused to award the one per cent pay increase that has been allocated to teachers across the country.
A pay increase of one per cent translates to a rise of just £380 per year, even for the most experienced classroom teachers at Spalding Grammar. This is, of course, before deductions.
Most classroom teachers will probably be entitled to far less than even this sum.
Has the headteacher and the governing body made such a poor job of managing the school’s budget that they have not made sufficient allocation to cover the pay award?
Logically, this would seem to be the case and, therefore, serious questions need to be asked regarding the competency of the financial management of Spalding Grammar.
A more important consideration, and one which the parents of pupils need to take into account, is the damage that has been done to the reputation of the school by this dispute.
Mr Wilkinson is likely to find that recruiting good teachers is going to be a good deal more difficult in the future.
As a teacher myself, I would be unlikely to apply for a position at Spalding Grammar after having researched the school and having come to the conclusion that the management team seems to be dismissive of the concerns of the staff.
I have read, in earlier reports, that the NUT regional representative has claimed that the management of the school has not responded to requests for negotiations on this matter, leaving staff with no other course of action.
Mr Wilkinson and the governing body must realise that, at a time when teacher shortages are becoming a national concern, Spalding Grammar School will find recruiting teachers hard enough, even if the pay at the school reflects nationally agreed levels.
Additionally, I note that the school was recently downgraded from the Ofsted judgement of “outstanding” to “good”.
How does Mr Wilkinson intend to address this if he refuses to pay his staff a competitive salary?
May I suggest that Mr Wilkinson discloses his own salary?
I suspect he may also have foregone his pay rise this year (if not, why not?), but it should not escape the notice of your readers that the headteacher of Spalding Grammar will be paid more than double the salary of a classroom teacher at the top of the upper pay scale.
These figures are a matter of public record and anyone performing an internet search for “teacher’s pay scales” can easily discover what teachers are paid.
Could I further suggest that an audit of the roles of the senior leadership team is undertaken as soon as possible.
It may be that some roles may be shared between other members, meaning that a salary of at least £50k could be saved through redundancy of one or more management staff.
This money might then go towards settling the pay increase for staff on the “chalk-face”.
In summary, as an alumni of Spalding Grammar and as a member of the profession, I find this whole incident very disturbing.
As I mentioned earlier, I do not work at the school but I am from Spalding and have a vested interest in the quality of schools in the area.
I would therefore urge Mr Wilkinson and the governing body to adopt a more sensible approach to this dispute in order to limit any further damage to the reputation of Spalding Grammar School.
EDITOR: The sitiation has now been resolved and the teachers given a one per cent pay rise. However, we still thought this letter, published in the Free Press before the decision, worthy of inclusion.