Monday, July 26, 1999 Published at 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Teachers want promises on merit pay
Union leaders say most teachers will qualify for performance pay
A teachers' union is seeking assurances that there will be sufficient funds for all the staff who might qualify for merit pay under the government's proposals for performance-related pay.
The Professional Association of Teachers' chairman, Philip Withers, speaking at the union's annual conference in Southport, predicted that the majority of teachers would qualify for a performance-related pay increase.
But he questioned whether the government has provided enough extra money to provide for large numbers of teachers passing the "threshold" of achievement, which will entitle them to a pay increase of up to £2,000.
"Will there be nit-picking about criteria not being met? If we get into either of these scenarios the prospects for increasing morale within the profession are bleak," said Mr Withers.
Even though Mr Withers pressed the government for reassurances on its proposals, ministers will take comfort that the union has not rejected the linking of pay to performance - unlike the biggest teachers' unions.
Although with some reservations, the union is in sympathy with performance-related pay.
"PAT has long argued that all teachers who meet the relevant criteria should automatically have access to higher salaries for remaining in the classroom," said Mr Withers.
The government's initiative to raise standards in reading and writing in primary schools came in for criticism from Mr Withers, who claimed that the 'literacy hour' had been introduced without adequate training or resources.
Describing the initiative as a "fiasco", he said the literacy hour had not involved "in-service or on the job training. This was make it up as you go training".
The union, which has 35,000 members in primary and secondary schools, does not go on strike or take industrial action which could harm pupils' education.