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Blunkett takes a leap into new millennium

Recruitment, retention and reward are the new 3Rs that underpin the Government's attempt to modernise teaching. But a fourth R will be important. Will it be radical enough to make the profession attractive?

Before the Green Paper was published, the Education and Employment Secretary, David Blunkett, promised something for something.

His something is the opportunity for all classroom teachers to boost their pay beyond the #163;23,000 - the maximum most can earn. In return he expects all teachers to be subject to rigorous appraisal which will be linked to pay.

There will be two pay ranges for teachers with a threshold giving access to a higher range up to #163;30,000 to #163;35,000.

"Crossing the threshold would be a significant step. Above the threshold teachers continue to focus on classroom teaching, but would be expected to take greater responsibility for raising standards," says the Green Paper.

The head and external consultants will assess which candidates cross the threshold. Those who do will immediately receive a 10 per cent pay rise.

Progression up the higher spine will be related to performance. Teachers will be given a set of targets based upon school performance and pupil outcomes. The Green Paper says crude links between pupil results and a teacher's pay will be avoided.

Meanwhile, new groups of fast-track teachers - 1,000 a year - will be selected. They will work an extra four to six weeks to receive leadership training and industry placements. They will need to combine academic ability and high-level subject knowledge and be good communicators.

The fast-trackers will be deployed in particular schools and may be moved around. They will reach the pay threshold in double time and by the age of 27 could be subject leaders. If they live up to their promise they could be heads by their mid-thirties.

The aim of the fast-track scheme is to attract good graduates into teaching and to bring on potential leaders into a school system with an ageing population.

The scheme has already been condemned by one union leader who said whiz-kids blazing up the pay scale will cause resentment.

A new leadership spine will encompass senior staff and advanced skills teachers. The top of the AST pay range is #163;40,000.

There will be greater use of fixed-term contracts for heads, who could earn up to #163;70,000. Heads will have a contractual duty to implement a performance management and pay system. They will be responsible for their staff's appraisal and performance-related pay.

At present governors are responsible for deciding teachers' pay annually.They will not be able to spend the money set aside for performance pay on other things.

Heads will be subject to a "robust performance-related pay scheme" and governors will be encouraged to use consultants when making appointments or fixing heads' pay.

A new college for school leadership will provide courses and sabbaticals for talented heads. There will be #163;10 million for headship training over three years.

By 2002 all new heads will be expected to have the National Professional Qualification for Headship. New heads will take part in an induction programme; more experienced heads will attend an extension programme and will be paired with a leader from business or industry.

The School Improvement Grant will increase to enable underperforming schools to get good heads.

The Government has not changed the length of the school day or year, despite earlier suggestions that it might. But more teachers - the fast-trackers and those on the leadership spine - will no longer be subject to the 1,265 hours in the teachers' contract.

The vision of the open-all-hours community school, and how homework and breakfast clubs and other school-related schemes relate to teachers' jobs is not addressed by the paper.

Instead, the big idea is the threshold leading to performance pay. The Government has gambled that a 10 per cent rise - #163;2,300 - will be enough to motivate teachers to aim for the new pay range.

Consultation ends March 31, 1999.


* new pay spine with top rate of #163;30-35,000 for classroom teachers * at point 9 (#163;22,410), teachers can apply to cross threshold to higher pay level * rigorous annual appraisal for all teachers who will be set individual targets * appraisal will be linked to pay increases * fast-track scheme for young teachers * new leadership scale for senior staff and advanced skills teachers * more fixed-term contracts for heads, with pay rates up to #163;70,000 * bonuses, to be shared among staff, for top schools identified by a School Performance Award Scheme * tests for trainee teachers in numeracy, and possibly literacy and ICT * contractual duty for teachers to keep up to date professionally * army of 20,000 classroom assistants * robust performance-related pay for heads * three-tiered training programme for heads * new college for school leadership * new inspection programme for teacher training providers * review of training for supply teachers * a competition, organised by Lord Puttnam, to design the staffroom of the future

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