Belfast Telegraph

Anger at minimum wage teacher training job offered by Stranmillis College

Stranmillis University College in south Belfast
Stranmillis University College in south Belfast
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

A union has hit out after a training college offered newly-qualified teachers primary school jobs at minimum wage rates.

Stranmillis University College in Belfast, however, said the roles were not teaching positions but support roles which would be under the guidance and mentorship of senior staff.

It said the interns were not to act as substitute teachers and if they were the school was to pay them accordingly.

It said the internship would end the day before any teaching work was undertaken.

The NASUWT disputed that, saying candidates for the position had to be qualified teachers.

It fears the low-pay scheme could become the norm for entry level teaching, and said it should be reconsidered.

The BBC reported that the college had offered two “graduate internships” at Dundonald Primary School paying £7.70 an hour — the minimum wage for those aged between 21 and 24.

They will work full time alongside staff teaching literacy and numeracy.

“The primary aim of the internship is to provide graduates with meaningful professional experience through involvement in projects which enhance the Graduate Interns’ employability and skills,” the college told the Belfast Telegraph.

Justin McCamphill of the NASUWT said the job description also said those successful would be responsible for teaching children.

He said there was an agreed rate for teachers and that is what should be paid.

He told the BBC: “The job description says to ‘create and teach programmes and activities that will assist children to engage in learning which will have an impact on their level of achievement attained’.”

“Clearly this is a teaching job.

“The pay doesn’t even match the support roles of those in schools.

“And at £7.70 an hour they appear to be excluding those over 24.”

He said he feared this could begin a “race to the bottom” in relation to wages and it could be how teachers enter the service in the future.

He added: “This is a job which you are going to bear the responsibility of teaching and be paid less than support staff.

“You will be the lowest paid employee in the school paid less than support staff. There are better paid jobs out there I would assume.”

He said that while “well-intentioned”, the scheme should be immediately suspended and reconsidered.

The college said it was happy to meet with the unions to discuss their concerns. It refused to provide a copy of the job description.

In a statement it said: “The Stranmillis University College Graduate Internship Programme is targeted at students who have recently graduated and are preparing to enter the labour market.

“The primary aim of the internship is to provide graduates with meaningful professional experience through involvement in projects which enhance the Graduate Interns’ employability and skills.

“The vice principal of the school will supervise the intern and co-ordinate their programme of work, ensuring consistency and fidelity to the agreed objectives of the programme.

“The internship provides an opportunity for those just graduating from a teaching degree to engage in projects under the guidance of an experienced practitioner.”

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