1917 Spalding meeting hears of teachers’ unrest

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There was considerable unrest locally – and nationally – among teachers over pay in 1917.

The local Education Authority heard from a deputation that, although the price of commodities had “gone up by leaps and bounds”, there had been no increase in teachers’ salaries to meet the extra costs caused by war.

It was pointed out that, before the war, it had been stated that the country needed 14,000 new recruits for the teaching profession every year, whereas in fact the number in 1912, 1913 and again in 1914 had been just 6,000.

In this area, assistant masters who were certificated teachers received a maximum salary of £120, while assistant mistresses received either £95 or £96.

Before the war, the NUT had regarded the £120 salary as “unreasonably low” and, the meeting heard, “they came to the conclusion that unless the country was prepared to pay a maximum salary of £200 to the certificated teachers in their schools the supply was bound to fall short”.

The union was asking for a maximum salary of £200, and £160 for assistant mistresses. For masters, they asked a salary according to the size of the school, rising to £240 in schools under 100, to £280 in schools between 100 and 200, and £320 in schools above that size.

It was pointed out that £120 in 1917 represented “something like £70” of pre-war money.

In addition, it was said Boston and Holland were “very much below” the country generally, with only nine borough authorities paying less than Boston, and only 15 less than Holland.

The committee was urged not to look upon education as the “Cinderella” of industries or professions of the country, but to pay salaries that would attract the best men and women to the schools.