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Anger as review of pay scheme is postponed

Teacher unions who collaborated with the Government over performance-related pay are feeling betrayed. Sarah Cassidy reports

TEACHERS' leaders who helped push forward the Government's performance-related pay scheme - despite viewing it as flawed - are angry that it will now not be reviewed until 2002.

While the National Union of Teachers challenged the government in court, other unions decided it was better to accept a "flawed" scheme, on the understanding it would be reviewed next year. They feel betrayed that ministers have accepted a recommendation from the pay review body that will leave the scheme unchanged until 2002.

Education Secretary David Blunkett accepted the School Teachers' Review Body recommendation on Friday, dashing union hopes of having the contentious link between pay and pupil performance removed next year.

Teachers must meet several standards in order to cross the perfomance "threshold", win an immediate rise of pound;2,000, and move on to a higher pay scale.

Controversially, one area teachers are judged on is pupil progress - a fact which prompted the NUT to demand an immediate review of the threshold standards.

In contrast, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers told the review body that the current threshold standards should remain this year but be reviewed for 2001, with a view to scrapping the link between pay and pupil progress.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary, said: "This is a generally helpful report (from the review body) which puts the pay increases for thousands of teachers back on track. However, thre is no proposal to change the pupil standards, particularly the controversial link to pupil results.

"Unfortunately, a fundamental review of the standards has been put back until 2002. The NASUWT had pressed for one immediately in the light of much experience already gained."

Kay Driver, General Secretary of the Professional Association of Teachers, said that many people felt aggrieved because they had collaborated on the understanding that their would be an early review. She said: "The bureaucracy and focus on pupils' performance in tests are clearly not appropriate for many of our members, who work in nursery schools.

"We knew there were problems but the promise of an early review made it acceptable. To then find that there will be no review until 2002 will be a problem for many of our members."

The NASUWT is also concerned that the promised "appeal" for teachers who fail to pass the threshold assessment may not be all that it seems.

Teachers who believe they have been wrongly turned down for the pay increase will not only have to lodge an application for the decision to be reviewed but provide "objective evidence" that they have been wrongly assessed.

John Dunford, general secreatry of the Secondary Heads Association, who opposes giving staff the right of appeal, said: "To have an external assessor and appeals proceedure creates massive overkill and represents a vote of no confidence in the headteachers who have done their best in difficult circumstances to put this government policy into action."

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