Teaching union slams 'pathetic' pay rise

Britain's second largest teacher's union today dismissed an expected pay rise of between 3.5% and 3.7% as "pathetic" and accused Labour of paying more attention to advisers and the media than "the voice of the teacher in the classroom".

Nigel de Gruchy, the general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) said morale among teachers under Labour was "perhaps even lower than it was under the Conservatives".

"Teachers expected pretty rough treatment from the Conservatives, particularly under Mrs Thatcher. They expected better under New Labour.

"Unfortunately the gap between expectation and reality is much wider than it was under the Tories," he told the British webside ePolitix.com.

"The Government has become a victim of its own propaganda. It courted the right-wing media, but lost teachers in the process.

"I think they need teachers more than they need the Daily Telegraph or the Daily Mail," he said.

Mr de Gruchy called on the Prime Minister Tony Blair to "pay less attention to all these specialist advisers and try to pay far more attention to the voice of the teacher from the classroom."

He blamed the current crisis in teaching on inadequate pay, "an enormous increase" in bureaucracy under Labour, and more violence and indiscipline in the classroom.

"Those are the three issues which the classroom teacher has been calling out for I think for the last 20 years", he said.

"If you listen to the voice of the teacher in the classroom first you pick up the message of what really needs to happen in education if you want to make it a success."

Mr de Gruchy's comments came as schools were facing the prospect of a four-day week, and plans were being considered for retired teachers to return to the classroom due to teacher shortages.

"If the Government believes that 3.5-3.7% is an adequate response to the crisis we are in, I can only say that is pathetic," he said.

The pay rise for teachers in England and Wales, which is expected to be announced in the next few weeks, is still under consideration by the School Teachers Review Body.

Some reports have forecast a rise of between 3.5% and 3.7%, but a spokesman for the Department for Education and Employment said the figures were "just speculation."

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now