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Easter threshold pay-out for staff

Review body backs performance pay but has insisted on the right of appeal and removal of the 'snoopers' charter. Sarah Cassidy reports

The School Teachers' Review Body has paved the way for teachers to receive their pound;2,000 threshold rises before next Easter, by endorsing the Government's performance-pay proposals.

The pay plans were put on hold after the High Court supported the National Union of Teachers' case that David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary, had acted unlawfully by failing to consult properly.

But the pay review body, in a report published today, has agreed to all the requirements for crossing the threshold, including the controversial demand that pupil progress is taken into account.

It does, however, recommend that there be an appeal procedure for those who believe they have been unfairly failed - one of the NUT's key demands.

The report, which is expected to be accepted in full by the Government, will be welcomed by the 197,000 teachers who applied for the pay rises.

The new appeals procedure could be used by teachers who failed in the areas of the country assessed first.

Ian Murch, secretary of the NUT in Bradford, predicts that many of the unsuccessful applicants in his area would consider appealing.

The headteacher unions are divided on the appeals issue. John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "Having external assessors and an appeals procedure means there will be two checks on a headteacher's judgment. This is simply intolerable."

But Mck Brookes, president of the National Association of Head Teachers, said that he did not believe heads would be undermined by an appeal.

Applicants who qualify for the pound;2,000 increase will be placed on a performance-related pay scale of up to pound;30,000.

The review body also called for a clarification of the so-called "snoopers' charter", to ensure that only teachers' line-managers will have a duty to co-operate with heads assessing the applications.

The NUT claimed the new right of appeal as a victory. But it warned that it may raise further legal objections if it is unhappy with the treatment of individual teachers.

Doug McAvoy, the union's general secretary, said: "Our campaign to remove the link with pupil performance has not gone away. With the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers we have made our case for removing it for next year's applications."

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the NUT's threat to continue with court action was completely ill-advised and urged the union to get over its "irrational hostility to the whole scheme".

He said: "We have pressed for the introduction of an appeals procedure and believe that the external assessors play a valuable role so we are pleased that the process will involve both."

Local authorities and unions have a deadline of November 10 to respond to the Government's consultation on the new arrangements.

The STRB's recommendations also apply to Wales but Welsh deadlines will be later.

When cash will be paid, 5

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