BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Education  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 15 March, 2002, 18:24 GMT
Heads' heavy heart over ballot
Sha logo
Union says merit pay is not properly funded

Head teachers of secondary schools say they are pressing ahead with a ballot which could lead to their taking industrial action for the first time.

Members of the Secondary Heads Association (Sha) will be balloted in late April or early May on whether to boycott a performance-related pay scheme designed to help reward the best teachers.

Margaret Hodge
Mrs Hodge delivered a tough speech to heads
The general secretary of the association, John Dunford said Sha was pressing ahead with a "heavy heart" because the scheme was under-funded by £60m this year  and there was no sign of movement from the government.

He was speaking after heads were addressed by the education minister Margaret Hodge at Sha's annual conference in Bournemouth.

Ms Hodge delivered an uncompromising message to the heads - ruling out any extra money for the scheme.

Olive branch

She told them they should be prepared to make difficult decisions about which of their teachers deserved the extra cash the most.


I'm happy to make difficult decisions but not impossible ones and ones which are going to demotivate half of my staff

Neil Dyment
But she held out an olive branch, inviting them to further talks on the scheme.

Union leaders interpreted this as a conciliatory move and said they would go ahead with the talks.

Heads at the conference complained they did not have enough money to reward all of their good, experienced staff.

Demoting staff

Neil Dyment, who is the head of  Verdin High School at Winsford in Cheshire, said he had thirty experienced teachers who had passed what is known as the "threshold" - which makes them eligible for performance-related pay.

John Dunford
John Dunford says heads are in an impossible position
He told Ms Hodge: "I'm able to reward only half of them.  I'm happy to make difficult decisions but not impossible ones and ones which are going to demotivate half of my staff."

Another head, Chris Healy, from Balcarras School in Cheltenham, said: "My problem is that I have led my staff to believe that they could progress to the top of the pay scale.

"But the funding restrictions are going to mean that very few of them will progress to the top.

"It does not seem to be that the government is listening at all," he said.

Joint action

Sha and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) are joining forces in their campaign.


It's a legitimate role for all who hold budgets to take decisions like this

Margaret Hodge
They argue that the money the government has allocated for the scheme - £250m - will provide only half what is needed to reward good teachers who are on the new, higher pay scale.

So they will have to use money intended for other school resources to fund the scheme.

Ms Hodge said the government wanted to give heads more freedom to manage their budgets and did not want to "tie all your money up in knots" by earmarking it all.

"It's not an impossible decision to determine priorities within this budget.  It's a legitimate role for all who hold budgets to take decisions like this," she said.

After addressing the conference, she said she hoped the head teachers would not go ahead with their threat to boycott the performance-related pay scheme.

"It is sad if we end up with head teachers feeling unable to award additional salaries to excellent teachers in the classroom."

Referring to the National Union of Teacher's strike on Thursday 14 March, she  told the conference it was "too easy to carry out an act of  destruction, but it takes a long, long time to restore the reputation and esteem which is so important in the work we do".

See also:

19 Feb 02 | UK Education
18 Feb 02 | UK Education
13 Feb 02 | UK Education
23 Jan 02 | UK Education
23 Jan 02 | UK Education
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Education stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Education stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes