First strikes over pay cuts loom

Staff at eight schools are willing to walk out over the abolition of management points, reports Jon Slater.

Teachers at eight schools have formally voted to strike in protest at pay cuts for senior teachers.

More than a hundred other schools have held unofficial ballots for action over restructuring plans that will cost teachers up to pound;10,500 per year.

National Union of Teachers members at Hipperholme and Lightcliffe high school in Calderdale and six other, unnamed, schools have voted to strike, although the union hopes to resolve disputes without such action. A one-day strike will be held at Hipperholme and Lightcliffe on December 13 unless a compromise can be reached.

Members of the NASUWT union at Noel-Baker community school in Derby voted 17-3 in favour of strike action against the school's plans to deny about 14 staff who now get management allowances the new teaching and learning responsibility payments.

The unofficial ballots at more than 100 schools do not give the NUT the legal go-ahead to strike but aim to show the strength of feeling among staff. John Dixon, NUT assistant secretary, said such ballots had led to disputes at 20 schools being resolved.

The call for action is in response to the replacement of management allowance with TLRs. These aim to shift senior teachers away from administrative duties and towards raising standards.

The Government agreed the changes with the NASUWT, Association of Teachers and Lecturers and Secondary Heads Association as part of wider reform of the workforce. But the NASUWT believes some heads have used the reforms to save money on pay.

Plans for restructuring at Noel-Baker will cut the number of teachers receiving extra payments from about 40 to 26. The school will also create at least eight excellent teacher and advanced skills teacher posts.

Head Paul Davis said the plans would cut his teacher salary bill by about pound;35,000 and the school would spend an extra pound;100,000-a-year on support staff. He said the NASUWT's opposition to the changes at Noel-Baker was at odds with its national acceptance that some staff would lose out in the reorganisation. "I'm not sure where we go from here. I have made clear there is no room for manoeuvre on the new staffing structure," Mr Davis said.

Replacement of management allowances with TLRs will create tens of thousands of winners and losers across the country.

Winners include subject leaders in big departments who benefit from the increased focus on learning. Losers include heads of year and those responsible for administrative tasks such as timetabling, exam co-ordination and organising careers advice and work experience. Many schools are also cutting pastoral posts which attract extra pay.

The changes mean teachers receiving the lowest management allowance worth pound;1,638 are likely either to win an increase to pound;2,250 or lose it altogether. Those on management allowance 3 are likely to suffer a pay cut of about pound;200.

Although many heads back the reform in principle, they are critical of how it has been introduced.

Malcolm Trobe, head of Malmesbury secondary, in Wiltshire, said his salary bill will rise by about pound;15,000 a year. The school has written to Ruth Kelly, Education Secretary, complaining of the impact on pastoral care and teachers' pensions. The reforms had corrected pay "anomalies". "But staff are unhappy with a scheme which creates winners and losers," said Mr Trobe Nigel Middleton, director of the Head Support pay and conditions consultancy, which has advised more than 4,000 heads on implementing the new system, said: "In many schools this has soured the atmosphere between teachers and heads. It could leave a legacy of bitterness that will affect schools for years to come."

Leader 22, opinion 23

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