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Derby creates superteachers;FE Focus

An East Midlands college hires football stadium to announce plan to pay top lecturers up to pound;30,000. Ngaio Crequer reports

DERBY College, Wilmorton, is to create a class of superteachers, paying them up to pound;30,000 a year, in a bid to drive up standards and to recruit the best staff in the country.

The college hired Pride Park, the home of Derby County football club, this week to announce the plan to staff.

Within hours the following morning, more than 100 staff had applied for the first 30 jobs. For some it could mean an overnight pay rise of up to pound;10,000.

Principal David Croll has been in weeks of confidential talks at Downing Street with Prime Minister Tony Blair's education adviser Andrew Adonis. The Government is intent on extending the superteacher scheme for schools into further education, as revealed in the TES in January.

The Wilmorton plans are likely to prompt ministers to urge other colleges to devise similar schemes to boost recruitment by putting the most talented lecturers on a faster track to top pay rates well above the current ceilings.

The superteachers, more formally "learning directors", will be expected to be a model for other staff, and to act as their mentors, so creating a cascade effect in the college.

"We are the first college to put its head above the parapet in response to David Blunkett's White Paper Learning to Succeed which will break the mould and reward excellence," said deputy principal Di McEvoy-Robinson.

"This is a unique initiative to drive forward the college's strategic objective to improve standards of teaching and impact positively on the social exclusion agenda.

"This will improve recruitment, retention and achievement towards government targets for learners of all ages.

"However the most innovative aspect of this initiative is the opportunity to reward excellent teachers and provide a career structure that allows them to remain at the heart of the learning process."

It enables lecturers who have had to move into management in order to improve their pay and to progress their careers, to return to the classroom.

John Holmes, chair of governors, told members of NATFHE, the lecturers' union, that "our objective is to ensure that Wilmorton will be recognised as having the best trained, best motivated and best rewarded staff in the sector."

The new breed of teachers will be appointed by the end of this September. There will be two or three students on the interview panel, and staff will be told to give a presentation as though they were talking to learners.

They will need to have a teaching qualification, or be working towards one.

A proposed draft contract has gone out to NATFHE for consultation. Although staff may be required to work some Saturdays or Sundays the object is not to make them work extra hours. "We recognise that they will have a range of activities and they will be much more caseload focused, " said Ms McEvoy-Robinson. "We don't want to work them to death."

The superteachers will have to show a continuous improvement in standards of teaching and learning, an intention to "impact positively" on the social inclusion agenda, an ability to inspire colleagues and to improve teaching and learning throughout the college, and be able to give students a belief in lifelong learning.

They will need to keep abreast of local and national developments in their area, to develop and use a range of teaching and learning materials, and "encourage benchmark lateral thinking". Staff will be expected to be ambassadors for their college at all times.

Personal qualities they will need include presence, enthusiasm, self-confidence, energy, reliability, integrity, intellectual rigour, assertiveness and realism.

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