Standing in the shadows

I wonder how many teachers know what the Burnham Scale is, and when it dates from? For those readers who don’t, it was a national pay scale for teachers and lecturers devised in 1919 by a committee led by Lord Burnham. Essentially it regularised pay across learning institutions and identified relative differences in pay between the different sectors and in comparison to civil service officers. Back in 1919:

“A man teacher on this scale who was teaching in a junior or a senior school and began his teaching at 21 years of age would by 30 years of  age be receiving a net salary of about £262. He would reach his maximum, £366 gross and £348 net, by the time he was 38 years of age. If such a teacher had spent four years instead of two years over his training and had thus taken a university degree as well as completed an approved course of training he would nevertheless be on the same scale.”

In 1994, a single national scale was agreed, and is still known as the Burnham Agreement.

All of which of course, at first sight at least, has absolutely nothing to do with Andy Burnham, the shadow education secretary who is calling for schools to provide a ‘pathway to employment’ for the ‘forgotten half’ less suited to going to university.

It makes refreshing, optimistic reading, particularly when he says things like:

“Government is in danger of preparing young people for a world that no longer exists, by prioritising Latin over engineering and not listening to what employers want.”

Clearly he ‘gets it’. Or does he?  I’m a bit confused when he suggests: “The [Labour] party wants to ensure that as many teachers as possible have MA qualifications”. Surely the last thing we want is more university-trained teachers with an even higher level of academic qualifications? What’s really needed are suitably trained and qualified inspirational teachers who have had a real experience of work outside an educational institution.

Perhaps it is time the Burnham Scale was reviewed again in order to encourage such people into the profession?


UPDATE, 13/7/11

Here’s a link to the text of Andy Burnham’s full speech:

Amongst all the good stuff though, he says the ‘brightest’ 30% of children could do Latin. So everyone else, who is by implication ‘dim’, will be prepared for the world of work?  Maybe he should have said the ‘most academically able 30%’…?

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