TWO TEACHING unions have strongly criticised a minimum wage internship for teachers run by Stranmillis University College in Belfast.
The NASUWT said the scheme should be suspended immediately, while the Ulster Teachers’ Union (UTU) called it ‘ludicrous’.
The college is offering two ‘graduate internships’ at Dundonald Primary School in Belfast.
They are to be paid at a rate of £7.70 an hour.
The posts are for recently-qualified teachers only and involve five days work in the school each week throughout the 2019-20 school year.
Stranmillis University College said that the internships were primarily support roles under the guidance of senior staff and were not teaching posts.
The two jobs in Dundonald Primary School are being advertised by the college for teachers who graduate from the college between July 2018 and July 2019.
One is for a literacy teacher and one is for a numeracy teacher.
They will work full-time alongside school staff to teach small groups of pupils who need help with literacy and numeracy.
Justin McCamphill from NASUWT said teaching should ‘not be a minimum wage job’.
The salary for each post is £7.70 an hour, which is the national minimum wage for 21 to 24 year-olds.
The NASUWT Northern Ireland official Justin McCamphill said he was ‘incredulous’ that qualified teachers were being recruited at the minimum wage.
The job description for these posts requires the applicants to be qualified teachers and registered with the General Teaching Council of Northern Ireland.
‘It is our view that they need to suspend this programme with immediate effect and properly consider what the long-term implications of this will be for the students who are currently in their care.
‘This scheme may have been well intentioned, but our fear is that this could be the beginning of the race to the bottom in relation to teachers’ wages.’
Jacquie White, the general secretary of the UTU, said, ‘With teachers now being expected to take on the ever-expanding responsibilities demanded of teachers today for the contemptuous sum of £7.70 an hour is so ludicrous it doesn’t seem possible.
‘We have seen other professions where so-called internships have become the byword for cheap labour and we cannot allow this to happen in our sector.’
The northern Ireland secretary of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) Gerry Murphy also condemned the scheme, calling it a ‘disgrace’.
- NASUWT members in Northern Ireland have attacked the failure of politicians to invest in education, leading to deep cuts to school budgets and ‘savage’ pay cuts for teachers.
A motion to be debated at the Annual Conference of the NASUWT, the teachers’ union, being held this year in Belfast, speaks of the ‘severity of the impact of austerity on schools in Northern Ireland’.
It will call for ‘all appropriate measures’ to be taken, including continuing the union’s industrial action to secure better pay and conditions for teachers.
NASUWT General Secretary Chris Keates said: ‘The failure of politicians to invest in education is leading to real harm in the education service with children, including the most vulnerable, being denied the funding to secure their entitlement to high quality education and teachers denied the resources to deliver it.
‘Investment in education should also include investment in the school workforce including their pay, working conditions and access to high quality training.
‘Teachers’ pay and conditions are inextricably linked to the quality of educational provision.
‘Children and teachers are being failed by the lack of action to address the underfunding and deep concerns of teachers.
‘Where politicians fail to address these needs then the NASUWT will take all appropriate action to protect its members.’