Help! Your career and pay questions answered by John Howson

Q I am a primary deputy head looking to move jobs in the new year. What would happen if I took a main scale post? I was ineligible for the first round of threshold payments and will miss out on the second because I am on the leadership scale. Can I apply retrospectively?

A This is a complex issue, and much depends on when you became a deputy. If it was before September 1, 2000, The Pay and Conditions Document, which covers teachers' pay, has a provision that means if you become a classroom teacher you will be treated as though you had passed the threshold. You would start at point one on the post-threshold pay scale. If you became a deputy head after this date, you would need to have been in a post on the leadership scale for three years to benefit. The Government has been consulting on reducing this to one year. Seek advice from the salaries department at your professional association.

Q Who is responsible for evaluating the experience and qualifications of staff going on to the single status pay spine with respect to the award of discretionary points?

A Discretionary points can be awarded when a teacher starts out or returns after a break in service but is not at the top of the pay spine. These payments reward periods of employment or experience considered of value to a classroom teacher's performance. They are independent of any other allowances or management points. A school's governing body is responsible for authorising such payments, but locally negotiated agreements often cover what may be included. As time spent on the basic pay scale becomes shorter, and teachers reach the threshold faster, these payments may assume less importance, but many mature entrants to the profession find them a useful way to increase their starting salary if the school has the funds to pay them.

John Howson is visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University and managing director or Education Data Surveys. Do you have a career question for him? Email: susan.young@newsint.co.uk

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