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Teachers Pay Friday, 20 October, 2000, 10:12 GMT 11:12 UK
Teachers' merit pay scheme resumes
teacher helping pupil
It could still be months before the rises are paid
Almost 200,000 teachers in England who applied for a performance-pay rise are being told they should not have to go through the whole process all over again.

A formal consultation on the process, which followed a court ruling that the government had introduced it illegally, has endorsed ministers' plans.

Key points
review body backs pay scheme
existing English applications stand
new Welsh deadline of 16 March
NUT wins teachers a right of appeal

"It is our clear commitment to resume this process as quickly as possible, so that teachers can get the pay rise they deserve," said the Education Secretary, David Blunkett.

But the delay caused by the court ruling means teachers in Wales will not have their applications considered until next March - six months late.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) - which brought the successful court challenge - has also won a right of appeal for teachers whose applications for the pay rise are turned down.

Delayed process

The 2,000 rises apply to teachers who apply to "cross the threshold" from the top of the existing basic pay scale onto a new, performance-related ladder.

They were to have been paid from last month.

david blunkett
David Blunkett: Proposals backed by review body
But in July the NUT got the High Court to rule that the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, had acted illegally in the way he introduced the new system and it was put on hold.

In England, 197,000 teachers have submitted applications.

In Wales, which was already following a later timetable, 15,600 teachers are eligible to apply.

The deadline for them to submit their forms would have been September. Mr Blunkett is now proposing a new deadline in March next year.

Money backdated

But ministers promise that all the successful applicants will have their money backdated to 1 September.

Teachers in Scotland and Northern Ireland are not affected by the changes.

Having been told off by the court, the government referred the matter to the School Teachers Review Body, the independent advisers on teachers' pay and conditions.

The review body undertook a formal consultation on the standards teachers have to meet when applying for the pay rise, taking evidence from Mr Blunkett and from organisations representing teachers, school governors and education authorities.

It is the outcome of that exercise that has now been announced in a Parliamentary written answer.

It endorses the standards Mr Blunkett set originally, including the contribution teachers make to their pupils' academic progress - although it says there should be "a thorough and comprehensive evaluation" of them by 2002.

Right of appeal

One significant change in the review body report is a right of appeal for teachers who believe they have been wrongly assessed as not meeting the required standards, which is what the NUT had called for.

This adds another layer to what is already an incredibly bureaucratic process

John Dunford, Secondary Heads Association
"We have accepted that recommendation and will consult on how this might best operate with the minimum of additional bureaucracy," Mr Blunkett said.

But the Secondary Heads Association expressed disappointment at the ruling, claiming the appeal process amounts to a vote of no confidence in headteachers.

"This adds another layer to what is already an incredibly bureaucratic process of putting teachers through a salary bar," general secretary John Dunford said.

The review body also says - and Mr Blunkett accepts - that there should be clearer wording on the "snooper's charter" issue which formed part of the NUT's court action.

This will make it clear that only teachers with management responsibilities should have to assist head teachers in assessing colleagues' applications for the pay rise.

What next

Mr Blunkett is now required to consult again on his response to the whole package. That will be done by 10 November.

A "statutory order" will then have to be laid before Parliament giving effect to the system.

Head teachers have to complete their assessments of the applications from their teaching staff, recommending who gets the money and who does not.

Those decisions - which were being made in England when the process was halted in July - are subject to checks by external assessors.

So it could be well into 2001 before teachers actually see the new money reflected in their salaries.

Doug McAvoy, NUT General Secretary
"Teachers are the winners"
See also:

15 Oct 00 | UK Education
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