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Feeling flush?

The Government says that it is putting more cash into the direct control of schools and into teachers' pockets, writes Adam Jezard.

First came the news that 7,000 schools - about 30 per cent of the maintained schools in England - would be given cash awards for improving pupil performance this year. A winning primary school would get around pound;5,500, which can be split among all the staff, from teachers to dinner ladies.

Next, there was an announcement that a scheme to make 80,000 teachers eligible for bursaries worth up to pound;1,000 had been approved. Teachers will be able to spend the money on any activity that advances their professional and career development, from buying materials and attending courses to hiring guest speakers or going on foreign study trips.

Finally, the Secretary of State for Education, Estelle Morris, confirmed that a revised plan to give the most effective teachers discretionary pay awards had won the support of headteacher unions the NAHT and SHA.

The new proposals say there should be a link between good management and extra pay for heads and deputies. Eighty per cent of teachers on the upper pay spine will now be eligible for extra cash as opposed to the 50 per cent originally proposed. There will be no automatic progression up performance-related pay scales. Schools will have the flexibility to decide how much to invest in performance pay and the Government is expected to pump more than pound;100 million into funding it.

Unions representing classroom teachers were sceptical. Eamonn O'Kane, general secretary of NASUWT said: "There is still no guarantee that all those teachers who meet the national criteria will progress on the upper pay spine.

"Action will be taken at the appropriate time if those classroom teachers who meet the national criteria are denied payment."

Teachers who crossed the threshold in 2000 will be eligible for the extra cash from September.

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