How to make the point

My point is, I don’t get to strike on Wednesday. Would I? My union tells me I should. Mums don’t strike, do we? As a stay at home mum I am indirectly affected. The toddler group I run will be short of staff: volunteer parents with school-age children will not be coming. Maybe our numbers will be down though.

I am not in teaching at the moment, and my pension pot as it stands is pitiable. That said, I have a pension pot, which is more than many my age can say. I’ve been in a position to start one and am grateful for that.

I want to be responsible when it comes to retirement: thinking ahead about the kind of life it is reasonable to live when the career is no longer a sensible option. I am not alone in my profession as a teacher in wanting to be reasonable, reponsible and sensible. We know what it means to go the extra mile.

Well, apparently I will have to work until I am 67 and a fraction to get my full pension, which will pay less than it might have and will need more from each pay packet on the way there. These things may be fair. It may be reasonable that people pay more in and live on less. It may be fiscally appropriate for pensions to be worth less in the big picture. It may even be necessary for people who are unable to change careers in their sixties to continue to do the kind of work that saps fit and enthusiastic colleagues in their twenties, both physically and emotionally. But ministers telling professionals that they are not willing to review the TPS situation properly since Hutton shows a lack of understanding and caution and economic/mathematical sense. Let’s get to the bare bones of it.

The Department for Education emailed me. I doubt I was singled out, and imagine all teachers with an email address will have been included. Well, that’s all of us then, although how many will have had time to read the email is another story. Perhaps after organising the rest of autumn term, all the winter and Christmas events and collapsing in a flu-ridden heap for a week after the end of term some others may also notice it. For those who haven’t (yet) read the email, here are the things the DfE indicated we had asked to know.

What stays the same:

We get a pension.

We keep pension and lump sum already accrued as final salary scheme.

We may still retire between 55 and 75.

Those who are old enough will see no changes in any case (if they could have retired within 10 years).

What changes:

Final salary pension becomes career average pension.

Phased increase to Normal Pension Age in line with State Pension Age changes.

“A rebalancing of employee and employer contributions to provide a fairer distribution between members and other      taxpayers.”

Ok. (In fact, a lot of what was written is also available to read here. I guess they’re making their point by emailing. I wonder how they knew my email address? Perhaps through some quango that’s been disbanded… I do hope I’m not getting Cynical Teachers Disorder. I’ve not been in a staff room for years.)

 

For the first list – hoorah! And – I should blinking well hope so too. Now get on with your work and stop distracting people.

For the second list – humph! And – given that childhood is extending, people are living at home longer and having children later, perhaps we are all getting older more slowly. But my back is telling me otherwise and I can’t be the only one.

So what are our options?

A blogger with a fairly good understanding of it all has written here on why teachers should strike.

I have some other ideas, which will not indirectly cause long queues at Heathrow, risk the health of those whose operations need rescheduling, create delays in justice, cost the economy £ridiculousandfranklypulledoutoftheairbillions, cause those with decent pension options to smugly keep quiet and those with none to rave loudly. Bear with me. Striking is not a good match for the situation. Instead, consider:

OPTION ONE:

Low level resistance. This works in classrooms to great effect all across the country. I suggest unions concerned simply refuse to mark or set homework. Or equivalent really rather silly extra part of the job that no one likes to question.

OPTION TWO:

Get rid of year 9 and 10. This is one I have been mulling for a year or two. I honestly believe in more than 50% of cases it would produce the desired effect. So – children would continue to start school at an age when even Victorians didn’t send them up chimneys, they reach the age of 11 and go to high school where they stay for just 2 years. They then have 2 years in the Big Wide World learning about Real Life, minimum wage, experience and making tea before doing all their GCSEs in year 11 in one year. I bet the results would go up. And it would save a fortune in staffing, and therefore pensions.

OPTION THREE:

Brain drain. All move to Scotland, where house prices and university fees are better. This may backfire if the government realises what we are doing. But we might get Alex Salmond on our side and who knows?

OPTION FOUR:

Free schools. Oh yes. Hit them where it hurts. All teachers leave their current jobs and set up free schools. And manage our own pensions. Hmm. Bit hit and miss, that one.

OPTION FIVE:

Teach a better way. Live it. Model it. Create it. Responsible children who can be responsible adults. Do we have any choice? In a few years they will all be paying to keep us going anyway.

 

 

 

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