Cash to enrich staff learning

A school is pioneering awards of pound;2,400 a year for teachers to spend on travel or study to develop their careers.

In a deal agreed with the National Union of Teachers, Greig city academy in Haringey, north London, is offering its staff the cash to spend on anything from extra training to fact-finding visits in Britain or abroad.

The NUT has called for the learning awards to be adopted by all schools in the union's five-year plan revealed by Steve Sinnott, the general secretary, last week.

He said: "There needs to be a much greater commitment to professional development. It really is the key to improving teaching and improving learning.

"If a teacher wants to spend some time work-shadowing a head or a head of department, they should have the resources to do it. We want to raise the profile of continuing professional development so that in itself it is seen as a condition of service."

Other schools may not be able to match the pound;2,400 provided by the academy, but they should be able to equal the pound;1,000 for career development which is already standard in Wales, he said.

David Triggs, who was executive principal of the academy when the deal was struck, said: "They said it was the way the NUT had always dreamed of professional development, where teachers have control. Not just because of this, but for a lot of reasons, Greig has now gone from having a very high staff turnover to one of the lowest in London.

"Spending on professional development makes teachers more effective and efficient and raises the standard of achievement."

Paul Sutton, the academy's headteacher, said: "It's early days with people still working out what they can do with it. But I think it could prove to be very attractive in terms of recruitment."

Studying for a master's degree, travelling to New Zealand to see how restorative justice is used with problem students, or looking at the uses of technology in foreign schools were some of the projects that interested teachers, he said.

Applications for funding are approved by a staff committee, chaired by the vice-principal.

Teachers who have spent three years at the school can take half of any unspent money as a cash payment if they leave.

After five years' service, they are entitled to a term's sabbatical if they have not spent more than half their award.

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