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Thursday, 18 January, 2001, 16:52 GMT
Pay deal targets teacher shortages
teacher in class
Across-the-board rise of 3.7% is expected
Newly-qualified teachers and staff in areas of highest living costs are expected to get preferential treatment in this year's pay award in England and Wales.

The review body which advises ministers on teachers' salaries is expected to recommend an overall above-inflation rise of about 3.7% - the same as the nurses' award - when it reports at the end of the month.

But it is thought to want to do more to tackle the teacher shortages which have made headlines in recent weeks.

The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, has said again that he will accept the review body's recommendations.

BBC News understands that there will be an improvement in starting salaries of about 5%, with an uplift of 30% in the London weighting allowances.

London weighting

That would put a graduate starting teaching in London on about £20,000 a year.

An increase of 3.7% would mean most classroom teachers, on the top of the grade, getting £24,844 without performance-related pay.

It is felt that the greatest problem in terms of teacher shortages is in the South East of England, although unions insist it is more widespread.

This particularly afflicts counties lying just outside the area which qualifies for extra money, according to head teachers and local education authorities.

But it is not thought the review body will recommend anything to widen the London weighting area - currently split between inner and outer London and the "fringe", with supplements from £2,316 down to £591.

There is likely to be an emphasis on much greater use of recruitment and retention allowances.

In theory these let schools pay up to £3,765 above the norm in order to attract and hang on to good teachers - but many schools say they simply cannot afford to pay them.

Mr Blunkett has said he is committed to accepting the review body report.

In a letter to the government on Thursday the National Union of Teachers called for a rise of 12.5% or £2,000, whichever is the greater, and "a pledge to bring teachers¿ pay into line with other professions recruiting graduates".

It wants additional funding to schools to improve levels of back-up staff, releasing teachers from administrative tasks to concentrate on teaching.

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See also:

15 Jan 01 | Education
Union to act on teacher shortages
13 Jan 01 | Correspondents
Truth about teacher shortages
05 Jan 01 | Education
Teacher shortage is 'housing problem'
18 Dec 00 | Health
Pay boost for NHS staff
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