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Cash first,details later, say unions

Most teachers' leaders call for no change to the threshold standards until next year

TEACHERS' leaders are to accept the link between pay and pupil progress in an attempt to get threshold cash to members as quickly as possible.

Only the National Union of Teachers will press for the controversial link to be dropped, as the Government attempts to get the policy on to the statute book after its High Court defeat.

However, a new survey of teachers who applied for the pay rise shows they have little confidence in the standards they must meet to get their extra pound;2,000-a-year.

Only four in 10 believed the eight standards - which include the pay and results link - described good teaching, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' survey found. Eight out of 10 said filling in the forms had been a "bad experience", with half believing performance pay would divide staff.

Education Secretary David Blunkett will refer the eight standards to the School Teachers' Review Body, asking it to report back by the end of September. That could mean some teachers get their rise as early as November. All payments will be back-dated to September 1.

The NUT this week warned the review body it risked getting into a "constitutional dispute" over devolution if it accepted responsibility for the standards. The union believes ministers should let standards in Wales be decided by the Welsh Assembly.

Ton Vineall, the review body chairman, is understood to have told the union it was a matter for the Government. The NUT denied applying pressure.

Most unions fear infuriating members who would have to repeat the time-consuming application process if the standards changed. The ATL found that the 197,000 applicants took an average of 16 hours to fill in the forms.

These unions will instead press for changes next year. Once the criteria become part of the review body's remit, they could be debated annually.

Even the NUT, whose action led to the standards being ruled unlawful, is pressing for a quick solution: drop the results link and debate the standards next year.

The union's general secretary Doug McAvoy said: "We oppose payment by results and will continue to do so. What we have done is ensure there is a statutory vehicle open for us to use."

The National Association of Head Teachers and the Secondary Heads Association said any change this year would be unacceptable to members assessing applications. NAHT general secretary David Hart said: "There is no way headteachers would go through the process again."

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers said there had been plenty of informal consultation over the standards. Deputy general secretary Eamonn O'Kane said repeating the exercise would be "utterly unacceptable".

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