Scottish Teacher Recruitment Problems – So, Abolish National Pay Rates

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It appears that there are problems in recruiting teachers in Scotland – the answer therefore is to abolish those national pay scales. For quite obviously it is not true that all teaching jobs are of the same value, therefore not all teaching jobs should pay the same amount.

There’s more to it as well – costs of living vary across the country. Therefore a national pay scale isn’t going to provide the same standard of living to the people doing the same job in different areas. Thus national pay rates fail on two separate counts. They don’t fill the jobs desired and they don’t even manage to do what they’re supposed to, offer the same pay for the same job.

Some Scottish schools have had to advertise multiple times in order to fill teaching posts, according to figures obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Freedom of information requests submitted to all of Scotland’s 32 local authorities found one post had been advertised as many as 14 times. The responses also showed some open posts had had no applications. Scottish ministers said teacher numbers were at their highest since 2010. The Lib Dems said they had received responses from 26 councils, with one secondary post – for a technical education teacher in Aberdeenshire – being advertised 14 times. It attracted a total of four applications.

So, what actually is the problem?

There’s been concern for many years about the difficulties experienced filling some vacancies in remote and rural areas. Often qualified applicants need to be persuaded to move to the area – and the problems recruiting teachers are often similar to those filling other skilled and specialist jobs. Relatively high house prices in some areas have also led to difficulties – teachers’ pay is standard across Scotland.

Well, there, there’s the problem.

Pay isn’t in fact the number of pounds in the paypacket. It’s the standard of living you can buy with what you’re being paid that is the true rate of pay – that is, real incomes matter, not nominal. So, obviously enough, there will be difficulty in offering the same nominal income in places where money is worth less. Which is what high house and other prices mean, that each unit of nominal income is a smaller real income.

We also know that such national pay scales in the public services are a serious problem:

OK, so what’s going on here? Well, one contributory factor is the manner in which we have national pay scales:

We do know that national pay for nurses kills people. National pay, by definition, cannot reflect local employment markets nor living standards. Having the one rate thus produces a shortage of nurses in high cost of living areas and that really does kill people. Our answer should thus be to get rid of the entire idea. Devolve pay down to the actual employer.

No, really, we do know that national pay for nurses kills people.

So, obviously enough, to stop killing people we should stop having national pay settlements. And it is worth noting that those blackspots, the notspots, for care are in the richer areas of the country….

The answer for Scotland and its teacher recruitment problems is therefore obvious. Stop having national pay scales and allow pay for each job to reflect the difficulty of recruiting for each job. That’s it, that’s all, then we’re done.