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Monday, 18 February, 2002, 00:15 GMT
Heads challenge minister over pay
Heads want more cash to reward experienced teachers
Head teachers' unions are to meet the Schools Minister, Stephen Timms, to demand more money to fund performance-related pay for classroom teachers.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the Secondary Heads Association (Sha) are angry at what they call the government's refusal to adequately fund the pay scales available to the most experienced teachers.

David Hart
David Hart wants answers
From April, the Department for Education will allocate a special grant of 250m over the next two years to cover teachers' performance pay, but the unions say this will only be enough to pay half the eligible staff.

The unions say heads are in the impossible position of having to deny some worthy teachers the pay rise or take the money from other parts of the school budget, leaving less cash for books and staffing.

The heads have threatened that if they do not reach agreement with Mr Timms on Monday afternoon, ballots for industrial action will be held next term.

Both unions have said any action would not affect pupils, as it would consist of them simply withdrawing from the government's performance management scheme.


The national president of Sha, Tony Neal, said the union was concerned that heads were left in an untenable position.

It's very sad it's got to this

David Hart
"Of the 200,000 or so teachers who became eligible for the upper pay spine, the School Teachers' Review Body expects the majority to meet the criteria for a pay rise - but funding from the new special grant will only pay for 50%," said Mr Neal.

NAHT general secretary David Hart said: "We're hoping to get some answers - the ones we've had so far have been totally unsatisfactory."

"I expect we'll be told that there's no money on the table, but I'd rather hear that they understand the concerns of heads and will change their position," said Mr Hart.


Mr Hart said the action was significant, as the NAHT had not balloted for 20 years.

"It's very sad it's got to this, but it does seem extraordinary that the government is being so antagonistic as to ignore the concerns of 100% of head teachers," he said.

"We've been getting letters of complaints for months and the secretary of state can be under no illusion - she too has had letters from heads and governing bodies."

A spokesman for the Department for Education said head teachers had a clear responsibility to lead schools and that recent reforms had given greater opportunity for leadership.

"It would be wrong of them to undermine the progress made by pupils, parents and teachers with industrial action," the spokesman said.

See also:

13 Feb 02 | Education
Heads to ballot over pay scheme
23 Jan 02 | Education
Teachers to get 3.5% pay rise
23 Jan 02 | Education
Rise is not enough say teachers
22 Jun 00 | Teachers Pay
80% of teachers want merit pay
12 Sep 00 | Education
Performance pay 'benefits' teachers
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