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Monday, 20 September, 1999, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Headteachers' mixed feelings about Blair
NAHT conference
Headteachers wanted more details on pay reform from Tony Blair
By Gary Eason at the NAHT conference in Cardiff

Headteachers gave Tony Blair a short standing ovation at the end of his speech to the National Association of Head Teachers conference in Cardiff, but had mixed feelings afterwards about what he had said - and what he had left out.

Gregg Abbott, Head of Annesley Primary and Nursery School, Nottingham, said he was "very pleased" at the offer of partnership and dialogue.

"Philosophically we can't argue with his wanting to remove underachievement, to promote teacher status, to take us forward into the new millennium," he said.

Hilary Kundu
Hilary Kundu wanted to know how performance-related pay would really work
But Mr Blair had "glossed over" the government's proposals on linking teachers' pay with performance, he felt.

"At the moment we are overloaded and to do extra for more money is fine, but we need to have the opportunity for training and the time to deal with these really important issues," he said.

Amanda Martin-Walker, Deputy Head of Beverley High School, a specialist technology college, also took heart from the promise of dialogue between teachers and government.

Unions 99
"But I felt that there were some very key issues that are going to take a great deal of hard work to sort out," she added.

"For example, performance-related pay: although he wishes to have discussions it was very clear that it was something the government is committed to and the detail of how that is put into practice is going to be a very difficult issue."

Tony Blair
Teachers were concerned that Tony Blair had 'glossed over' their worries
Hilary Kundu, Headteacher of Hartley Primary School in the London borough of Newham, also remained concerned about the issue of paying teachers according to their pupils' performance. She manages 25 "excellent" teachers in a school whose pupils come from very deprived backgrounds.

She has a high pupil turnover so measuring their progress - however it is done - is difficult.

Only 44% of the pupils in the final year last year had been at the school in Year 1. Twenty-five languages are spoken. Fifteen per cent of the pupils are refugees. Even so the schools' 11-year-olds matched the national average for English in their test.

"To which particular teacher would you attribute that success?" she asked. "The one in the testing year, the one in the year before? We need clear information on how the system is going to operate."

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