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Teachers Pay Monday, 17 July, 2000, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
Consultation on teachers' pay
estelle morris
Estelle Morris: Hopes delay in paying teachers will be short
The government has said it will now go through a formal consultation process on introducing performance-related pay for teachers in England and Wales, following the court ruling that it had acted illegally.

theresa may
Theresa May: "Arrogant" government
But the School Standards Minister, Estelle Morris, told MPs she could not yet say when teachers would get the 2,000 pay rise which 197,000 in England have applied for.

Making an emergency statement to the Commons at the request of the Conservatives, Ms Morris said the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, had written to head teachers telling them simply that the deadline by which they are to assess their teachers' claims would be changed.


If after consultation it's decided to change the standards, well then, quite honestly, it's a different ball game.

Education minister Estelle Morris
She said she did not think teachers would have to fill in their application forms again unless the consultation resulted in substantial changes to the process.

She promised that the pay rise would be backdated to 1 September. That is the date from which it was to have been paid, although in practice many teachers would not have got it until later anyway.

But she did not answer a challenge from The Shadow Education Secretary, Theresa May, who wanted any interest accrued on the money to go to teachers or at least to schools.

Apology demanded

Mrs May said the government's "humiliating" legal defeat in the action brought by the National Union of Teachers was a "damning indictment" that showed how out of touch ministers were.

It showed the arrogant way the government treated not only teachers but also Parliament, she said.

She called on Ms Morris to apologise publicly for the way Mr Blunkett had blamed the defeat on "inadequate advice" from civil servants.

Ms Morris accused the Conservatives of "hypocrisy" in that they had supported the NUT action and had opposed performance-related pay for teachers.

"If you and your colleagues had anything to do with this, there would be no chance of a 2,000 pay increase, let alone any possibility of it being paid, albeit late."

Timetable

She said the High Court had ruled that the standards by which teachers wanting to "cross the threshold" onto a new and higher pay scale were invalid because they had not been referred to the independent School Teachers Review Body, which advises ministers on teachers' pay and conditions.

But Mr Blunkett had believed it was not necessary to refer the standards to the review body because "they are about standards of teaching, not about pay structures and scales".

The judgement did not give rise to "any fundamental need to review government policy on rewarding good teachers".

The government had now written to teachers review body, asking it to begin the formal consultation process.

She was unable to say what the timetable would be until it had responded.

"My fervent hope is that the delay in paying this 2,000 to those teachers who have completed the application form and are doing a good job will be as short as possible," she said.

Teachers in Wales

The process is following a later course in Wales, where the 15,600 teachers who are eligible have not yet been sent application forms.

The Plaid Cymru leader, Dafydd Wigley, said all four parties in the Welsh Assembly were opposed to the link between teachers' pay and their pupils' performance.

Dafydd Wigley
Dafydd Wigley: Wanted Welsh Assembly to have the say
He asked Ms Morris to "look at clarifying this issue" and giving the Assembly the right to determine the threshold standards for teachers in Wales.

But Ms Morris replied that the matter did not fall within the Assembly's devolved powers.

It was right that the standards should be the same in England and Wales because of the way teachers moved between the two countries.

The NUT's deputy general secretary, Steve Sinnott, said Ms Morris was "misleading Parliament" on the nature of the judge's decision.

"The judge did not say that the government had to follow the special teachers' pay review body procedure and he left open the issue of whether this was a matter that had been devolved to the Welsh Assembly," he said.

'Pay them anyway'

Earlier, the Liberal Democrats' education spokesman, Phil Willis, called on the government to pay the 2,000 to those teacher who had applied for it while it sorted out the "shambles" caused by its court defeat.

It would be wrong for teachers to be punished for Mr Blunkett's failure to make his legislation legally watertight, said Mr Willis - who had accused the secretary of state of being "Stalinist" when he pushed through the changes.

In the High Court on Friday, Mr Justice Jackson ruled that Mr Blunkett had acted illegally on two key points related to the introduction of performance-related pay.

The first involved the standards by which teachers who applied to "cross the threshold" onto a new, higher pay scale were to be assessed.

The second related to a new duty on all teachers to assist head teachers in assessing whether colleagues merited crossing the threshold.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Estelle Morris
"We intend to press ahead"
Theresa May
"Incompetence of the secretary of state"
See also:

12 Jul 00 | Teachers Pay
11 Jul 00 | Teachers Pay
10 Apr 00 | Teachers Pay
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