Coming soon to a school near (very) you

I went to a governors’ presentation on what we, unpaid long-suffering volunteers, will have to do to work out pay for staff following the introduction of single status for school staff.
Don’t get me wrong I take on the role of governor because I want to ensure kids get the best education we can give them, particularly those who are struggling because of unfavorable home circumstances.
What I don’t like is being set up. Single Status has a serious purpose in bringing poorly paid women in line with everyone else. It has been in the pipeline for a rather long time, principally because it was realised that it was going to be bloody expensive to do what was intended. That is pay a living wage and backdate it to April 2007.
I lost confidence in the presentation when a head teacher announced that he had already been to a head’s presentation and what they told him them was quite different.

We were all given masses of paperwork to look through examples of old pay scales and new ones which we were supposed to decide where non-teaching staff fitted. We know from the experience of the City Council that there were going to be losers. It wasn’t apparent here, but the head who had spoken before said it wasn’t just a few who were going to lose out at his school.
So we as governors will be having to work out the impossible. No way are we going to let our staff lose out. Yet no one said where there was going to be any money to pay any increases which leveling up implies must happen. We were told that the pay would be from 1st April 2008 (so we have just two months to work all this out). What, I asked were the unions’ views about back dating. They haven’t come back on this was the response. Does this then mean they aren’t going to? I very much doubt it.
In Sandwell there have been reports that schools have received large bills to pay for Single Status. This means that other needs and the development of education will suffer. In some cases redundancies will be on the agenda since schools cannot present budgets which don’t balance.
My school in the shadow of Winson Green prison is already struggling with a large deficit. There are no reserves to fund this.
The government has found billions to bail out Northern Rock, benefiting private companies it would seem. (Richard Branson says he only wants a “fair return” for risks he takes!) It finds colossal funds to wage wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Health and education are supposed to be important, but rhetoric and action are rather different in practice.

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