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EDITIONS
Thursday, 23 September, 1999, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
Merit pay for best teachers
classroom
Good teachers are offered the chance of more money
The government expects that over 100,000 teachers will receive performance-related pay next year, as it unveils its plans to link teachers' salaries to the progress of their pupils.

The School Standards Minister, Estelle Morris, has promised "there will be no quotas" for the number of teachers who will receive merit awards - and that the 1bn allocated for performance pay would be sufficient for rewarding all those who deserved it.

"Every teacher who qualifies will receive the extra money - and the money is there for rewarding all our best teachers. Every penny of it will buy reform, every penny will buy improvement for schools," she told journalists.

girl taking exam
Pupils' exam performance may affect their teachers' salaries
The majority of the extra money for performance pay will fund "threshold" payments: teachers judged to have reached a high level of ability will receive a "significant" rise - which ministers are suggesting to the pay review body should be up to 2,000.

Seeking to go through the threshold in this way is voluntary.

The government expects that over half of the 200,000 or so teachers near the top of the present classroom teachers' pay scale will qualify for the extra payments, which will be allocated after appraisals and external assessment.

Rejecting claims from teachers' unions that teachers might refuse to participate in the performance-pay scheme, Estelle Morris said that the proposals were to the advantage of both teachers and pupils.

"It would be incredible if a union was engaged in dissuading members from taking advantages of pay increases that rewarded their ability," said the minister.

The government's plans, submitted in evidence to the schoolteachers' pay review body, will mean annual appraisals for teachers, with their performance reviewed against individually agreed objectives - including pupil progress.

Although an annual pay rise will no longer be automatic, the minister made clear that the "vast majority" of teachers would receive an annual increment, even if they did not qualify for performance pay.

deputy head checking
Teachers' work will be monitored
Classroom teachers who pass through the ability threshold could, subject to successful appraisals, progress to salaries of 30,000, or 35,000 if they have management responsibilities.

This would be through "four or five" additional pay points of "around 800 to 1,000", the government is suggesting.

There has been a mixed reaction from teachers' unions. The biggest, the NUT, suddenly said on Wednesday that it could now accept the proposals, but the second biggest union, the NASUWT, is still not happy.

Cost of living

The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, called the new, higher pay scale "performance-related promotion".

"External assessors will work with heads to ensure fair and consistent judgements," he said. "Any teacher who meets the standards at the performance threshold will be able to get through."

In its submission to the pay review body the government said it believed most teachers should get a cost-of-living increase next year. No figure was put on this.

Mr Blunkett also gave details of a scheme to attract better graduates into teaching. It involves what his department calls a 'fast track' scheme for accelerated pay rises, which would also be open to existing teachers.

"We have had some success this year in our recruitment drive - there has been an increase of 5% in the number of graduates applying to enter teacher training in both the primary and secondary sector," he said.

Fast track scheme

"However, if we are to make teaching more attractive to our best graduates, we must learn lessons from other professions and offer a fast track.

"It will attract high-flyers into teaching, offering those rigorously selected more challenging initial teacher training and a staged 5,000 training bursary. Participants will be expected to undertake a succession of teaching posts designed to challenge their skills and broaden their experience."

The scheme would involve those on it getting to the new performance threshold - hitherto the pay ceiling for most classroom teachers - within five years rather than seven.

The government has announced 23m for training to support the new system.

Improvements

There is also to be 20m this year and a similar sum next year intended to improve teachers' working environments. All schools in England will get at least 500. Bigger schools and those in the greatest need could get more than 2,000.

Mr Blunkett added: "Our reforms are designed to improve standards by making teaching more attractive.

"We recently saw much improved results in our primary schools as a result of improved teaching and want to express our appreciation and thanks for the effort and commitment of teachers who have worked to raise standards.

Also:
How performance pay could be assessed: how the new appraisal scheme might work.
Mixed response: reaction to the proposals from unions and individual teachers.
Head to head: a headteacher who is piloting the new system argues the case for it - while the General Secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, Nigel de Gruchy, explains why the union is opposed.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Video
The BBC's Sue Littlemore: "A general link between teachers' pay and pupil results"
Audio
Education Correspondent James Westhead: "Many teachers fear the scheme will be divisive"
Video
BBC Education Correspondent, Sue Littlemore: "The scheme will be voluntary"
Audio
The BBC's Education Correspondent James Westhead :
Audio
Education Secretary David Blunkett explains his proposals
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