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Teachers Pay Thursday, 22 June, 2000, 00:09 GMT 01:09 UK
80% of teachers want merit pay
history lesson
Teachers have to show an improvement in pupils' results
About 197,000 teachers in England are trying to get performance-related pay - more than three quarters of those who were entitled to apply.


A system which is fair, robust and has a minimum of bureaucracy

Education minister Estelle Morris
Figures released by the Department for Education show that nearly 80% of the quarter of a million who were eligible have sent off application forms.

Under the scheme, qualified classroom teachers who were on the top of their pay range can apply for a 2,000 rise and access to a higher pay scale.

But, to do so, they have to demonstrate certain skills and qualities - including, most controversially, an improvement in their pupils' results.

Anticipated boycott

The existing ceiling on pay for ordinary classroom teacher is 23,958 a year.

estelle morris
Estelle Morris worked hard to persuade teachers of the scheme's merits
Those who cross the performance-related pay "threshold" will have the longer-term prospect of earning up to 30,000.

Since the plans for the new pay scheme were announced, they have been opposed by teaching unions, who have argued that all teachers should receive a pay rise.

It had been anticipated that many teachers would boycott the scheme.

Releasing the figures, the School Standards Minister, Estelle Morris, said: "Over three in four eligible teachers have applied. This is a very good response.

"It shows the importance of our determination to introduce the new system despite opposition from those who said few teachers would apply."

Her comments annoyed Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the NASUWT union.


I'm sure that the government, or a government, will see the wisdom of our arguments and will change the system

Union leader Doug McAvoy
"We worked very hard to make it a better system and we are very positive about it," he said.

"She is trying to divide and rule. She is trying to drive a wedge between teachers."

The strongest stance against performance pay has been taken by the National Union of Teachers, which calls the system "payment by results" and is still pursuing a legal challenge to an aspect of the regulations introducing it.

But its executive refused to follow a call from its annual conference to ballot for a one-day strike on the issue, and the union even said it would support members who chose to apply.

doug mcavoy
Doug McAvoy: Still opposed
The NUT's general secretary, Doug McAvoy, said the campaign against performance-related pay would continue, however.

"I think it is a bad idea. I think it will be divisive," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

Teachers had been put in "an impossible position" by the government, and were applying for a possible pay rise of 2,000 against their better judgement.

"The government has disregarded all of the arguments, all of the evidence, because it had decided well before the consultation that it was going to impose performance related pay," he said.

"The campaign against it will go on. In time, it may be longer than any of us would wish, then I'm sure that the government, or a government, will see the wisdom of our arguments and will change the system."

Reservations

Teachers say a high level of applications should not be taken to mean that the scheme is "popular".

Many have complained about the bureaucracy involved in the application process.

Head teachers now have the new chore of going through all the application forms, deciding whether their staff merit the pay rise, and forwarding the forms to the private company providing the external assessment checks, CEA.

The Secondary Heads Association (SHA) estimates this will mean an extra 80 hours' work for heads of average-sized secondary schools during the second half of the summer term - an already extremely busy time in the school year.

The Professional Association of Teachers broadly welcomes the new scheme.

"We have extremely grave doubts, however, about a number of the proposals - namely timing, funding, threshold assessment, post-threshold pay progression and bureaucracy and workload," a spokesman said.

  • The scheme also applies to teachers in Wales but the timetable there is different. The deadline for applications is 29 September.

  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    Doug McAvoy, NUT
    "Teachers put in an impossible position"
    See also:

    22 Jun 00 | Teachers Pay
    16 Jun 00 | Teachers Pay
    06 Jun 00 | Teachers Pay
    29 May 00 | Teachers Pay
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