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Northern Ireland teachers 'harming' pupil education and are better paid than other UK teachers: Education chief Boyd

Union blasts education chief's missive as 'fake news'

By Jonny Bell

Northern Ireland teachers are better paid than their English and Welsh counterparts and their industrial action is harming schools, the head of the Education Authority has said.

Teaching unions are engaged in industrial action in a bid to improve working conditions and pay, with some taking to picket lines.

Read more: Northern Ireland education chief's letter to teachers over salaries and conditions [Full document] 

In a letter sent to all teachers, Education Authority Gavin Boyd said the action was "seriously affecting the education of children and young people" and "the effective operation of schools".

He also said teachers had been "confused by misinformation on a number of key issues". He said that teaching unions had rejected an overall offer of 2.5% on pay in 2015/16.

From an employer’s perspective it has been disheartening to hear some say that our teachers are not valued. Gavin Boyd

"The average teacher's pay in Northern Ireland is just over £40,000 per annum," he added.

"This compares very favourably with other graduate professions locally and is actually higher than the average teacher's pay in England and Wales."

He added: "There have been no reductions in teacher's pay."

He did however, concede that tax rises and pension contributions had risen affecting pay, but that this was a part of a wider government strategy.

"Public sector pensions remain attractive and in general offer much better terms than those available in the private sector."

Unions have reacted angrily, branding the missive as "fake news".

Chris Keates, General Secretary of NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said: "Teachers will not be persuaded or intimidated by the fake news presented in the letter issued today by the employers.

“The letter from Gavin Boyd will simply infuriate teachers who are continuing to endure the painful reality of real terms cuts to pay, job insecurity and excessive workload, including as a result of a punitive inspection system.

“Mr Boyd’s letter to teachers and principals cannot hide the facts of the destructive impact of excessive workload on teachers’ lives or that the value of teachers’ pay has fallen by around 20% since 2010.

“It is a pity that employers and ministers have spent their time denying the concerns of teachers.

“The employers should start to devote more of their time to addressing the genuine concerns of teachers rather than peddling misinformation.”

Justin McCamphill, NASUWT National Official Northern Ireland, said: “Today’s letter only serves to patronise teachers. It offers nothing by way of substance or fact.

“The NASUWT has provided the Management Side and the Department of Education with a clear agenda and way forward which will address the concerns of teachers and enable teachers to focus on teaching and leading and managing teaching and learning.

“The letter issued today is misleading and will do nothing to resolve the concerns of teachers.”

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