Education Secretary today blamed ‘inverted snobbery’ as she hit back at the focus on her £10,000 Rolex watch.
The Cabinet minister defended her pricey wristwear as she attacked those who might believe she should ‘never have made any money’ and remained ‘working class’.
But Ms Keegan saw herself dragged into a fresh row with unions after she claimed teachers were ‘probably within the top 10 per cent of earners in some parts of the country’.
She was immediately challenged over her comments and kombi Servisi told that some teachers were having to take on second or third jobs because they ‘cannot make ends meet’ amid the cost-of-living crisis.
Ms Keegan, who owns properties in London, France and Spain, kombi servisi previously came under fire last month when she suggested .
She was accused of a ‘staggering lack of empathy’ for those remarks, which she made while wearing a Rolex watch estimated to be worth £10,000.
Appearing on LBC radio this morning, the Education Secretary revealed she was ‘quite surprised’ at the attention given to her choice of wristwear when she made the comments.
‘I was quite surprised really,’ she said.’It’s almost like assuming you’re working class, you start working class and you can’t become anything else.
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Gillian Keegan defended her pricey wristwear as she attacked those who might believe she should ‘never have made any money’ and stayed ‘working class’.
Pictured: The £10,000 Rolex Lady-Datejust 31 Everose that Ms Keegan is thought to own. She wore it last month when while claiming nurses ‘usually’ only use foodbanks if they have been dumped or their boiler has broken
Ms Keegan, who left school in Merseyside at the age of 16, stressed the watch was a 50th birthday present from her husband and her family and acknowledged she was ‘very lucky’ to own it.
‘I guess I’m supposed to never have made anything of myself, never have made any money, stayed in Knowsley,’ she added.
‘I don’t know.It’s like an inverted snobbery or something.’
Earlier on the phone-in show, kombi Servisi Ms Keegan prompted a backlash for her comments about teachers’ salaries as she urged school staff not to vote to strike in the New Year.
‘The average salary of a classroom teacher is £39,000,’ she said.
‘My cousin has just started teaching and she is on £28,000.She is 23 and living in Knowsley.
‘She is still living with her mum and dad and she’s still single… she’s not married and she’s not living away from home.
‘But the reality is that it’s a good career, it’s probably within the top 10 per cent of earners in some parts of the country.’
Rebecca, a teacher from Bromley, Kent, kombi servisi rang into the show to take issue with Ms Keegan’s remarks.
‘The fact that teachers…you’re citing them as one of the higher paid public servants in this country… I think that is probably more shameful than something to celebrate,’ she said.
‘I know how far my wages go each month. I know many people who are having to have second and even third jobs because they cannot make ends meet.’
Teaching unions the NASUWT, National Education Union and National Association of Head Teachers are all balloting members on strike action in England and Wales, while the Association of School and College Leaders has launched a consultative ballot.
Results are expected in January and if teachers vote to strike they will join paramedics, nurses, post and rail workers as well as Border Force staff who are walking out this month.
Labour’s shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson criticised Ms Keegan’s ‘staggeringly out-of-touch comments’ and claimed the Education Secretary was ‘clearly complacent about the teacher recruitment and retention crisis happening in our schools’.
‘Teachers are leaving the profession in droves because they are overworked and underappreciated by this Conservative Government, while potential new recruits are turning away from a career in our classrooms,’ she added.
‘Labour will boost working conditions for our teaching workforce by recruiting 6,500 more teachers, paid for by ending tax breaks for kombi servisi private schools.’
NASUWT deputy general secretary Jane Peckham pointed to new research that showed teachers and social workers had suffered the worst pay growth in the UK in the last decade.
‘We have calculated that the typical teacher is more than £50,000 worse off as a result of their pay falling to keep pace with inflation,’ she said.
‘The fact is that the pay offer which has been made represents yet another real-terms pay cut and schools have not even been given the extra funding needed to pay even this miserly amount.
‘Ministers are trying to make teachers foot the bill for the cost of living crisis, but teachers have had enough which is why members in Scotland have already voted to take strike action and why we expect colleagues in England and Wales to join them when our ballot closes next month.’
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: ‘I am glad that the Education Secretary was able to hear the first-hand experience of teachers and what is driving members to vote “yes” in the NEU ballot on pay.
‘Today’s report from Public First shows that teachers have been amongst the worst affected by a “lost decade” of pay growth since 2010 – and this is making recruitment difficult.
‘We need a fundamental rethink by government on how they treat teachers and support staff, as well as schools.This should start by accepting that the real-terms cuts to pay have gone on for long enough.
‘Right now, it is the Government’s intransigence which is driving a deepening recruitment and retention crisis. It needs to be taken seriously, not dismissed by Gillian Keegan, as it is not going away.’