An appeal went out for teachers prepared to provide online lessons to a student unable to attend school. Having a light timetable and having competence in two of the required subjects, I volunteered to provide two hours a week of my time.
Only when I was making the arrangements last week did I become aware that there would be paperwork completed, paperwork that related to the Department of Education paying me for the lessons.
I was baffled. How could I be paid for individual work during school time? It seemed an odd business.
A senior member of the staff explained, if the lessons did not happen during the day, then teachers would not volunteer their services.
On a further check on the regulations, I discovered that the Department of Education required that the lessons take place during the day if those providing tuition were to receive payment.
So for two hours a week, during time when I am paid a generous salary for being in school, I can do what is colloquially known as a “nixer,” and be officially recognized for it.
The €47 per hour payment becomes about half of that sum after deductions, but it still seems like free money. I am at work anyway, why am being paid for working? What about all the teachers who put many hours into sports, trips, and other activities outside of school hours and never receive anything extra?
It seems strange way of doing things.
This week, more free money appeared.
The government decided that people paying an electricity bill should each receive payments of €200 at the beginning of November, January and March.
On logging into my electricity account this morning, I discovered the €200 had been paid into the account. It was money I do not need.
Someone familiar with the process told me that he believed that the payments were being applied to each MPRN number, so that someone with more than one MPRN at an address might receive more than one set of payments. If that is the case, then it is absurd.
With the payments for the online tuition, there is at least a requirement of some additional effort. The electricity payments are money for nothing.
There are people for whom the coming weeks will be difficult. The price rises in the supermarkets are noticeable, fuel costs have risen sharply, potential energy bills have become difficult to estimate, but for a sixty-two year old school teacher with only himself to support, it is all manageable.
It would have been logical to have given support where it was most needed. Instead, a school teacher can ponder what he can do with an extra €600.