This blog usually concentrates on my work as a poet including running workshops etc. Readers may not be aware that I’m also a teacher and have produced and delivered many successful college courses mainly focusing on photography and electronic imaging.
I love teaching photography as much as I love running writing workshops. The feeling when people learn something new, gain new insights and develop ideas of their own is priceless. Unfortunately the paltry price that colleges put on such teaching is now untenable.
It is with real sorrow that I’ve watched the decline in adult college courses, the appalling lack of funding and of course the loss of teachers from the sector.
So if I’m saddened why is it that I’m no longer teaching photography in colleges?
Well, way back in 1987, 30 years ago, I was able to earn £17 per hour teaching IT skills to adults in evening or weekend classes (I wasn’t even a qualified teacher then). Recently the going rate has been dropping year on year. Now, 30 years on, I’ve received a recruitment email from a Leeds based organisation looking for a photography teacher to run a course for adults for 2 hours a week on Saturdays for 8 weeks. It’s the kind of course I’ve run numerous times but my hat is definitely not in the ring, not for the current going rate of £17.70 per hour!
I write all of my own materials, use my own sample photos and update my previous materials to meet current standards in digital photography and provide specialist equipment for the sessions. Before every session I plan and prepare and when I get home I will review how the session has gone. For this 16 hour course I’d spend at least 12 hours preparing and reviewing. I’d spend 2 hours each session travelling and I’d arrive before and leave after the students. My total time commitment would be 48 hours.
If I take away the cost of petrol (about £50 in this case) and then Tax/NI (another £70) I’ll be left with as little as £3.40 per hour.
Frankly that is really insulting.
I am outraged that it is now considered reasonable to pay experienced professionals who are also qualified teachers so badly. It is even more outrageous when the fees charged to the students are not still at 1987 levels. How outrageous is it then that colleges can value providing useful education so poorly.
I’m not generally one to give up.
I really want colleges to be successful, I really miss the time when colleges provided a truly wide and inspirational training for local people.
So, much as it goes against the grain, in the future my photography training will be delivered privately rather than through colleges!