Education-The teacher's year after the Ryan report
"WE RECOMMEND that the common scale and the new system of allowances should come into force on the 1st September, 1968 and should apply to all teachers who enter the profession on or after that date".
And it was there it all startedl With the introduction of the Ryan Tribunal, Ireland entered the debate, which has raged in Britain, France, Germany and other parts of Europe, on whether there should be a basic common salary for all teachers. With the implementation of the Ryan recommendations the Irish teaching profession entered a year, whose momentum of industrial strife and negotiation was comparable only to the great National Teachers' Strike of '48.
The recommendation of a common basic salary ended twenty years of what is called in the professional jargon 'leapfrogging'. In 1952 parity was reached between the secondary and the vocational teachers at a married rate of £420-£820. Their scale remained static until 1955 when the national teachers almost caught up with them. In 1956 the secondary teachers took a salary lead and maintained it until '65 when the vocational teachers outpassed them. And this has been the position until recently. The vocational teachers had consistently paid a better salary at the beginning of the scale. The national 10 teachers had always been the lowest paid.
In an attempt to bring some order to this situation, the Ryan Report introduced the principle of parity in the basic salary in all three types of teacher and recommended:
(a) Graded pensionable allowances should be paid to principals and vice-principals in all schools in addition to the common salary scale. The size of these allowances should depend on the point rating of the school.
(b) Eight grades of posts of 'special responsibility' should be introduced carrying annual allowances ranging from £100 for grade I to £500 for grade VII. The number and grades of these posts available in each school should be determined by references to the points system. These graded allowances should be awarded to teachers on the recommendation of the principal of the school, subject to approval by the managing authority and the Department of Education. No graded allowance should be paid to a teacher unless specific responsibilities had been clearly and explicitly delegated to him and were carried out by him.
The immediate reaction of the A.S.T.I. to the report was to reject it with a resounding vote. And from the moment of implementation they began to press for a salary increase. One of the 'impasse' questio.ns of their television and newspaper representations was whether they wanted a salary increase 'per se' or merely an increase above the others.
However the A.S.T.I. were determined and by the middle of January they were at the negotiating table. By the end of January they were on strike and by mid February they were in conciliation. A working knowledge of the Ryan Report is necessary in order to understand the terms of their settlement. The amount of money available for 'posts of special responsibility' was calculated in accordance with the method recommended by Ryan and allocated in sums of between £100 and £300, in order of seniority from the 10th point of the salary scale upwards.
A working committee of the A.S.T.!. and the Department of Education was set up to examine the responsibility to be attached to each allowance. It has not yet reported.
A reliable Department of Education source which must remain nameless, told NUSIGHT of the 'deal' agreed upon by the Department and the clergy. It is well known that when the A.S.T.!. strike was two weeks old the bishops instructed many of the Catholic managers to re-open the schools. A quick deal was necessary in order that the strike might not be aborted and the relationship between the clerical managers and the lay teachers destroyed forever.
So the clerical managers met the Department and agreed that although they held most of the posts of responsibility, they would not claim their allowances, but would grant them in order of seniority to their staff. A parenthesis in the second Ryan Report refers to the allowances for principals and vice-principals which the national and vocational teachers want ("and which the secondary teachers do not want"). Vocational teachers do not fully speculates on secondary teachers growing neurotic from 'responsible posts' in charge of milk bottles I
The V.T.A. and the !.N.T.O. regarded the agreement on allowances between the Department and the A.S.T.!. as being indistinguishable from a substantial salary increase, which disrupted the comparability claim. Between May 26th and 30th each organisation staged one and two day strikes. On June 4th Professor Louden Ryan was appointed to draft a report for the Minister on the national and vocational teachers claims. On June 17th he submitted it.
Ryan's findings are unequivocal. "The Tribunals recommendations on these allowances for principals, vice-principals and posts of special responsibility have been breached by the settlement made with the A.S.T.I." He recommends that the V.T.A. and the I.N.T.O. be compensated over the course of the next two wage rounds.
The two above-mentioned organisations are awaiting the Department's verdict on the report with admirable calmness. Charlie McCarthy, General Secretary of the V.T.A. told NUSIGHT recently that "one could understand the A.S.T.I.'s point of view". An amazingly tolerant attitude to what has been an aggressor! But then, maybe they can afford to be tolerant. Both organisations received substantial benefit from the parity agreement. And they are almost certain of a sympathetic hearing in the future. The new Minister for Education, Mr. Faulkner, is a national teacher, after all.
The teachers' disagreements seem far from being reconciled yet. A pity, since as Kaim Caudle says "married male teachers in the Republic of Ireland earn appreciably more than they do in Northern Ireland or Wales." However some of the differences which have crystallised over the last year are of an even more fundamental nature than money. It seems the whole profession is divided by status seeking. Prof. Kaim Caudle thinks that the teachers are only reflecting the urge to seek status that is deeply ingrained in our society.
The secondary teachers, from the introduction of the Ryan report, refused to consider parity with the other teachers. The basis for this lies in the status and importance attached to the degree. The committee on teachers' qualifications has not yet reported, but the exaltation of the degree as a tradition in this country goes back to the time that Newman started the N.U.I. 'for the education of the Catholic middle classes' and the training of gentlemen. Of the restrictive attitude of the graduates, Kaim Caudle says "All groups wish to restrict supply of their labour and increase the demand," and he added
"It is a fact however, that it is the national teachers who were at the top of the academic scale in the schools."
The secondary teachers, by their refusal to consider the Ryan Report and their refusal to sit on the Teachers Qualifications Committee, display their determination to hold tightly and restrictively on to their degrees.
But the vocational teachers may cast no stones. Last February a vocational teacher in Limerick, named Danagher, formed a Graduates Association (Vocational), i.e. an association for vocational teachers with degrees. But it is to the vocational teachers credit that he received little support. At the vocational teachers congress last April the strongest opposition came from those who had degrees.
It may be surmised that some of the tension which exists between the secondary and vocational teachers, which is as yet neatly contained by their respective organisations, arises from the secondary teachers fears for the control of education.
The vocational schools are now entering their Senior Education Cycle, an area once monopolised by the secondary teachers and in almost all cases, the clergy. The A.S.T.I., in recent months withdrew from the Department of Education's committee on the Leaving Certificate subject groupings. They demand their right to teach all subjects that they wish, while leaving the vocational schools with the responsibility for the groupings. The department has given no decision on this as yet.
This somewhat bitchy action is an expression of the secondary teachers' fear of the growing influence of the vocational teachers, who will also be vested with the responsibility for the Regional Colleges of Technology.
At the present time, control of secondary education lies in the hands of the clergy. Ideally according to Kaim Caudle it should be entrusted to a Local . Education Authority, with ParentI teacher Associations acting in an advisory capacity. With the decline in vocations the clergy can foresee the day when it may have to relinquish its powers (and even some of its property?). It cannot have been encouraged by an article by a higher civil servant in the Department of Education in an issue of Studies during the past year, which hinted at a take-over by the state, of secondary schools. Neither can they have been encouraged by a recently published book The Lay Teacher, by P. Duffy, which examines in a rather unfavourable light the relationship between lay teachers and clergy.
Ireland is still in a situation, where only 15 % of the population receives secondary education and t % receive higher education. It seems a pity that most of our thinking is directed at the labour problems of education rather than at the products