This year began with the worrying news of a significant decline in teacher morale. A survey conducted by YouGov reported that 55 per cent of teachers described their morale as "low" or "very low."
The number giving a positive response has almost halved since April last year to 15 per cent.
The reasons for this are not difficult to understand. More than seven in 10 teachers reported that they did not feel trusted by ministers and over three-quarters felt that government policies were having a negative impact on education.
More worryingly for ministers, only 13 per cent of teachers in academies and "free" schools, the coalition's blueprint for the future of education, believe that this government is taking education in the right direction.
And it's no wonder they are sceptical.
The privatisation of the education system through the academy and "free" school initiatives is already causing huge problems.
Local authorities are struggling to cope with reduced budgets, as money is syphoned off to support the privatisation of schools, and services are being cut left, right and centre.
In addition legislation requiring the delegation of funds to individual schools - even where those schools opt to remain with the local authority - means that the financial and educational benefits of sharing services across schools are being reversed across the country.
Local authorities are now reporting that the new delegation rules mean it is not permissible for them to retain funds to support schools in crisis situations such as flooding or fire, let alone to offer services such as behaviour support, school improvement and ethnic minority achievement services.
It is in this context that the attack on teachers' terms and conditions must be understood.
Teachers' pensions, like those of other public-service workers, have been unilaterally changed by government to introduce increased contributions, reduced payments linked to the lower Consumer Prices Index rather than the Retail Prices Index and a new pension age rising to 68 and beyond.
Then, in December, the government unveiled its agenda on teachers' pay.
The announcement was made on December 5, the same date as Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement, and consequently went largely unreported.
The proposals are contained in a 113-page document from the School Teachers Review Body (STRB), which is available from the Department for Education (DfE) website. January 4 - the last day of the Christmas holidays - was set as the deadline for statutory consultation.
The main proposals of the report are to remove the current system of "mandatory pay points" and replace them with a system of performance-related pay decided through appraisal at school level.
Annual pay increments have existed in teaching since 1920. Under the current system, teachers progress annually for their first five years in the job. Following that, they can apply to pass through a "threshold" onto an upper pay spine with three points and biannual progression.
This system ensures that teachers of similar experience are paid at a similar level from school to school and in different areas of the country.
It goes a long way toward ensuring a fair pay system and minimising competition between schools for staff, or competition between teachers which would exert downward pressure on pay.
Under the proposed changes this system would be replaced with minimum and maximum points on both the main scale and the upper pay spine, with schools setting pay and awarding annual increases, if they chose to do so, within these boundaries.
The government's proposed mechanism for this is the use of annual appraisal, though OECD research has found no evidence that performance-related pay improves results.
But the effective deregulation of teachers' pay at a time when school budgets are frozen or shrinking will ensure that school-level decisions are taken in the context of austerity.
The government has recommended a 1 per cent pay "increase" for teachers in line with the cap on public-sector pay, but already the DfE has suggested that head teachers will decide whether this is passed on to all staff and that individual schools will be setting their own criteria to decide who gets some of the 1 per cent.
The reality is that schools faced with budget cuts, decreasing support from the local authority and with increasing competition from academies and "free" schools will be pressured into holding down pay to resource underfunded areas.
The government will wash its hands, claiming that these are school decisions and that it cannot interfere.
Of course, in the opposite scenario, the government could not simply sit back and watch pay go up.
The STRB report warns that "increased autonomy on pay is associated with some risk of pay inflation" - STRB-speak for schools rewarding hard-working teachers.
However, the report notes approvingly that "overall school budgets will provide some constraint" and the new Ofsted framework will allow inspectors to penalise schools which cannot justify pay on the basis of "performance." So enforcing pay restraint or facing a bad Ofsted judgement will be the the choice facing most head teachers.
In supplementary proposals the report also recommends removing the obligation on schools to match a teacher's existing salary on either the main or upper pay scales.
This will mean that teachers will find themselves competing at interview for who can do the job on the lowest salary.
In the future, teachers moving schools or taking a career break may well find themselves starting at or near the bottom of the scale in each new job.
This will have a disproportionate impact on women teachers, who are statistically more likely to take a career break, and yet the government has already ruled that an equality impact assessment of the legislation is unnecessary. It constitutes a further attack on women in a profession where average pay is already deeply affected by gender.
Finally, the use of appraisal to determine pay will undermine what should constitute a professional dialogue in schools.
Appraisal and continuing professional development should be opportunities to develop professional and pedagogical understanding and improve the quality of education provided to young people.
Instead, they will become an individualised system of pay determination, increasing the strain on professional relationships within schools.
It is clear why these proposals are being opposed by teachers' unions and why further strike action by teachers is inevitable if the government refuses to change course.
But these proposals constitute far more than simply an attack on teachers' pay.
By delegating pay decisions to school level and removing a national system for the determination of teachers' pay, the government is essentially introducing a key market mechanism into the education system.
The net effect on a grand scale will be that schools in economically deprived areas, undersubscribed schools and others with additional budget pressures will be forced to reduce pay faster and offer less when recruiting new teachers.
Meanwhile, those with additional sources of income, in areas where less has to be spent to combat the multiple impacts of poverty, will have additional cash to spend on teacher recruitment, at least in relative terms.
This fits perfectly with the government model of a marketised, and eventually privatised, education system where the quality of education your children receive is directly related to the size of your bank balance.
That's why this is not just an issue for teachers, but for all of us. Building the broadest possible opposition to the government's proposals on teachers' pay is part of opposing the increasing privatisation of our schools.
We must protect fair pay if we are to ensure our children have equal access to a decent education.
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