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EDITIONS
Saturday, 16 March, 2002, 16:14 GMT
School heads warned against 'strike'
The chief civil servant in the Department for Education, David Normington
Mr Normington: "Industrial action is in nobody's interest"

A leading civil servant has stepped into the government's row with head teachers over their threat to boycott a key plank of their reforms.

Chief civil servant in the Department for Education David Normington told head teachers they risked losing their "moral authority" if they took industrial action over the implementation of a performance-related pay scheme.

Members of the Secondary Heads Association (SHA) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) are to ballot their members on whether to boycott the scheme, which they say is heavily under-funded.

Mr Normington told delegates at the annual conference of the Secondary Heads Association in Bournemouth: "Industrial action is in nobody's interest."


When leaders of organisations take industrial action they put at risk their own moral authority

Chief civil servant in the Department for Education, David Normington

"When leaders of organisations take industrial action they put at risk their own moral authority."

That angered some head teachers, including Davina Lloyd, of the top-performing Coopers' Company and Coburn School in Essex.

Her heavily over-subscribed comprehensive beat every other state and independent school in England to head last year's league table of GCSE exam performance.

Ms Lloyd said: "I have not been on strike in nearly 30 years in teaching - but I will make a stand that I think will not damage children's education.

"I think we are being asked to do something wrong.

"I am taking a moral view on that and my staff will back me up."

And SHA general secretary John Dunford said: "There should be a distinction between strike action that will damage children and the boycott of a badly-planned government initiative."

Davina Lloyd, of the top-performing Coopers┐ Company and Coburn School in Essex
Davina Lloyd will "make a stand"
If head teachers vote to boycott the scheme, they would not be able to choose which senior teachers should receive extra cash.

They say there is not enough cash to reward all the good experienced teachers and that choosing between them would damage morale.

But the government argues that as managers, head teachers should be prepared to take tough decisions.

Mr Normington said it was likely that head teachers would find they had more money to spend on teachers' pay than they had expected.

He said the heads' suggestion that they would only be able to reward 40% or 50% of those who qualified for merit money was wrong and that flexibility in the system meant more people could be rewarded.


The current performance-related pay system is broken

Conservative education spokesman Damian Green
But Conservative education spokesman Damian Green told the conference the government should come up with an alternative way of rewarding the best teachers.

"The current performance-related pay system is broken," he said.

"It should be replaced.

"It generates ill-will."

"Teachers must be motivated.

"They need a new pay structure that reflects a clearer career structure."

Although Mr Normington upset some heads with his remarks about "moral authority,"' he seemed to win many over with his willingness to arrange more talks to discuss SHA's objections to the pay scheme.

He said: "We have a profound disagreement between us and it seems like an unbridgeable gap. The clear thing is that we have to go on talking."

Such remarks, coupled with his jokes about the teachers' hate-figure, the former chief inspector of schools Chris Woodhead, meant he was generally well received.

See also:

15 Mar 02 | UK Education
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
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