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Barriers loom on route to top pay

Classroom teachers could find it tougher to gain threshold pay rises, worth pound;2,000, under plans to review standards and performance-related grades. Critics have said the rise is too easy to get.

The Government-backed review, launched today, will also look at what is needed to achieve qualified teacher status and pass the induction year, which all trainees must complete.

The consultation document says: "High expectations for professional development will need to be built into each career stage and be reflected in revised standards."

But it is the standards needed to cross the threshold to the upper pay spine, worth more than pound;2,300 this year, that could come under special scrutiny.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education Employment Research at Buckinghamshire university, said: "Progression over the threshold is almost seen as automatic - the rules governing the move need to be more explicit. Threshold should be seen as a specific career step rather than the current fudge."

Teachers with six years' experience can apply to their head to cross the performance threshold, jumping from a minimum salary of pound;28,005 to Pounds 30,339. Figures show that 95 per cent of those who applied in 2004 were successful.

The consultation document, drawn up by the new Training and Development Agency for Schools, which will lead the review, said the threshold standards should reflect the "progression" of a teacher with several years'

experience more closely. It said: "The standards will need to include responsibility for (teachers') own professional development, the contribution to the professional development of others and the contribution to the policy development of the school."

The review will also reform the fragmented system of in-service training.

Earlier this year Ralph Tabberer, chief executive of the TDA, formerly the Teacher Training Agency, said that staff should undergo continuing professional development to win pay rises. All teachers do a minimum of five days' training a year, but a study last year found that 80 per cent felt it did not meet their needs.

Professor John Howson, recruitment analyst, said: "The expectation is that you are almost always going over the threshold, which defeats the object of having a threshold. But if they make it too difficult they risk people quitting the profession because they are not getting paid enough."

The consultation document also says some parts of initial training could be delayed to later in a teacher's career, which could make it easier to qualify.

Unions agree that a review of professional standards is necessary. But Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said it would resist "unnecessary barriers" to higher pay. NEWS 10

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