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How to carve up the spoils

Around 6,800 schools will benefit from the achievement awards announced this week.

The money - around pound;25,000 for a 1,000-pupil secondary and pound;6,000 for a 200-strong primary - rewards improvements in pupil standards andor achievement in challenging circumstances.

Heads and governors are free to distribute the money among staff as they see fit, but anticipate that this "freedom" may present them with some difficulties.

Paul Leach, vice-chair of governors at The Ridings school, Halifax, said:

"It would be nice if we could find a way of rewarding the staff who don't make the headlines, the teaching assistants, who clearly do make a difference but don't always get recognised.

"You are never going to come up with a system that's fair to everybody. It's one of the things that always worries me about being a governor - you try to be seen to be fair. But you can't always be, and that's life."

Terry Pearson, a governor at Cliftonville middle in Northampton, believes that many schools have not yet fully considered how they will administer the awards: "Schools should have a policy on how the money is going to be distributed before they get it.

"If you have got improvement at that level, it's because the whole school is working hard and it should be apportioned across the whole staff."

Paul Tozer, govenor at a small rural primary and a large secondary, Highfields, in Matlock, Derbyshire, believes that managers are best placed to work out who should benefit from the achievement awards.

He said: "Governors debate and consider policy. Actually deciding which teachers are going to get what amount of money sounds like a management role. The policy role would be to say let's have a proper pay policy and give incentives to all staff, rather than lobbing in bits of money here and there."

Mary Wallis-Jones, governor of Chalcot school and Torriano infants, in Camden, said she doubted the value of achievement awards in fostering improvement in schools. "The main objective should be that it is not divisive and this probably means that everybody should get something. Schools work as a team and it would be particularly pernicious to differentiate between staff in a small school."

Juliet Lote, who is a governor at Moatfield middle and Claybrook first schools, in Redditch, said: "I think it is up to the governing body to oversee it and set up the criteria for their own individual schools on who gets what from the award.

"I do not see any animosity occurring in Worcestershire because we are united as governors, parents, teachers and headteachers working towards the same aim of maintaining standards in education."

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