Teachers paid on the double
To Be Honest: A teacher writes:I’m a chemistry teacher at a large secondary school. Since last summer I have been quietly seething over the situation regarding language teachers and the oral exams.
I’m writing now because it won’t be long before this crazy situation comes around again and if I don’t blow off some steam, I’m likely to start a row in the staffroom.
Every year hundreds of language teachers around the country leave their classrooms to conduct oral examinations for the Leaving Cert in other schools. There’s logic to this: students do not want to be examined by their own teachers, nor should they be. The obvious people to conduct the exams are the teachers themselves, who know the syllabus backwards and have a good sense of where a student at this level should be. Therefore it makes sense to do this annual shuffle between schools.
What does not make sense is the fact that language teachers are paid extra for their trouble. Not just mileage or expenses, but an hourly rate over and above their teaching salary. Almost €40 an hour, in fact. So, while these teachers are being paid to teach in one school, they are off earning extra money conducting exams in another. It’s double jobbing, in essence, but it’s sanctioned and bankrolled by the Department of Education. In other words, the taxpayer.
And that’s not the end of it. Because these teachers (three in total from our school last year) are not available to teach their classes, substitutes must be employed to take their places. These substitutes are also paid, not out of the wages of the double-jobbing teacher but – you guessed it – out of the taxpayer’s pocket.
I can see why teachers go for it. If I was a language teacher I probably would too. My colleagues will pick up hundreds of extra euro during term time again this year. Plus, their absence from the school inevitably means that the rest of us have to mop up extra responsibilities in such areas as supervision.
At the very least these exams should be held outside class time, over the Easter holidays, for example. I know that not many teachers will argue for working during the holidays, but if they stand to make considerable extra money out of it, I think it’s only fair.
As a teacher, I feel discriminated against because I can’t avail of a double salary once a year. But I’m even madder as a taxpayer who has to cough up for this barmy arrangement. This is a stitch-up in favour of some teachers that benefits no one else and costs the Exchequer hundreds of thousands each year.
It’s embarrassing and it needs to be axed.
* This column is designed to give a voice to those within the education system who wish to speak out anonymously. Contributions are welcome. Email email@example.com