Croke Park will hit schools' senior management hardest
Leftfield:Croke Park II is a very good deal for teachers, and, notwithstanding any advice from union executives, I believe that the majority of teachers will accept it when it goes to a ballot in the coming weeks.
The loss of payment for substitution and supervision cover, which will amount to an average weekly decrease of €15 per week after tax and PRSI, falls far short of the loss teachers would have incurred if the touted 7 per cent across-the-board cut had made it into the deal.
A three-month delay in the payment of increments is a very minor loss compared with the impact of an annual freeze on payments. The unravelling of the differential in pay scales for new entrants to teaching will remove a deep inequity, improving these teachers’ lifetime earnings by well over €100,000.
Unresolved, this issue would have fuelled growing tensions in our staffrooms and would eventually have affected the quality of students’ education.
The protection afforded to teachers on fixed-term contracts at second level, through the creation of panels similar to those that currently operate in the primary sector, will provide long-term employment security to the huge numbers of young teachers struggling to secure permanent contracts.
The creation of these employment panels, alongside the demographic bulge working its way through the primary sector, will provide this large cohort of teachers with long-term employment security.
Equally, the introduction of a redeployment option for special-needs assistants will provide long-term security for this group of workers and will be very popular with their teaching colleagues. The additional 78 hours required from staff at third level, which includes the loss of earnings from the correction of scripts, is a very minor burden compared with those being imposed on the public servants in the 24/7 Alliance.
Who are the losers in the education sector? In truth the real losers are senior management in our schools. A teacher at the top of the 25-point pay scale holding a special-duties post, which involves roles such as organising exams, earns €65,000. If an assistant-principal position becomes available, which normally involves a year-head position, the additional salary of €4,751 will bring those teachers’ earnings to €69,751. Applying the 5.5 per cent pay cut to that sum brings that teacher’s salary back to €65,915, a total gain of €915 before tax and other deductions. Given the structure of the pay cuts, there is now no incentive for teachers to take up management positions in schools.
Different working life
Where does this leave the beleaguered principals and deputy principals, who have a completely different working life from all other teachers? They are on duty all year around, dealing with every aspect of school management, getting a break of a couple of weeks in July, returning to prepare for the opening of school prior to the release of the Leaving Cert results in early August.
They earn on average an additional €20,000 and €10,000 respectively before tax and deductions, over and above an assistant-principal allowance, which after tax and new cuts of 5.5 per cent up to €80,000, and 8 per cent over that figure, leaves them with about €22 and €11 per day extra each.
Religious orders no longer have a hand in the management of our education system, and there is no back-up for principals from priests, brothers and nuns. How do we expect principals to spend years acquiring the management skills to run our schools effectively if we remove from them any semblance of middle-management support, and offer them a derisory sum as remuneration for this work?
Croke Park II is a good deal for the average teacher, but schools don’t run themselves. Our children deserve a high quality of education. Where will the requisite leadership come from at these levels of payment?
* Brian Mooney is guidance counsellor and an assistant principal at Oatlands College, Mount Merrion, Dublin