This week the Government unveiled its technical document on the Green Paper which contains details of the skills needed by teachers to cross the threshold to a new pay scale. This would give them a 10 per cent pay rise and the potential to earn pound;30,000-35,000.
Teachers on point 9 - at present pound;22,410 - and above will have to prepare portfolios showing good results from pupils, the use of ICT, their understanding of effective classroom management, links with others inside and outside the school and proof of professional development.
From September 2000 they will be assessed by their head and promotion will be approved by an external assessor. Currently 250,000 teachers - roughly one in two teachers - are eligible. The Government has put in pound;1 billion for the first two years to kick-start the changes.
Estelle Morris, the school standards minister, said last week that she could not countenance failure on the Green Paper: "We have got to make this work. We have to bring about this change. I feel passionately about appraisal. The reason a lot of people don't go into teaching is because they are not treated as a professional.
"Professionals see appraisal as the way of doing things... I think it has come at the right time."
But as they read the details, the unions hardened their stance. Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said his members would oppose linking teachers' pay to exam results. The other two classroom teacher unions were also negative.
Heads' leaders said the appraisal arrangements were unworkable and the paper would create a bureaucratic monster. They said the pay scheme would be a confusing mish-mash.
"There are signs of the Treasury screaming value for money all over this," said David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers. He said the lack of funding would inevitably mean many missing out.
All schools are required to have performance-management policies. All teachers are to be appraised annually and will be given targets for professional development and pupil progress. Appraisal will be used to assess teachers' pay.
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