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Wednesday, 22 September, 1999, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Peace breaks out in performance pay dispute
Doug McAvoy
Doug McAvoy says the government has moved its position
A confrontation between the government and the biggest teachers' union over performance-related pay seems likely to be avoided.

Responding to reports of the government's final proposals for performance pay - due to be announced on Thursday - the National Union of Teachers says that it is ready to offer a cautious welcome.

After threats of strikes and an escalating war of words over the government's linking of teachers' pay to performance, the NUT now says that the government has shifted its position sufficiently to meet its approval.

Nigel de Gruchy
Nigel de Gruchy says the proposals are still unacceptable to teachers
In particular, the union welcomes the new emphasis on rewarding teachers for acquiring new skills and for meeting "personal professional development" targets, rather than only linking payments to exam results.

A summer of negotiations between teachers' unions and ministers had seen "the government move a very long way", says the NUT's general secretary, Doug McAvoy.

But the general secretary of the second largest teachers' union, Nigel de Gruchy of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, still rejects the government's revised proposals.

"This is going to be difficult for teachers to accept. We will continue to argue for alternatives," Mr de Gruchy said. In particular, he disagreed with what he saw as the "heavy emphasis on crude exam performance".

However, a welcome for the government's proposals has been given by the Secondary Heads Association and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

Under the revised proposals, there will be an annual appraisal which will set objectives for both the progress of teachers and pupils, with successful teachers able to advance over a pay and ability "threshold" which would boost their pay by 10%.

While the teachers' unions have taken comfort from rewards for professional developments, the government is likely to point to the importance still attached to improving pupils' test and exam results.

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