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Invited to sup from poisoned pay chalice;News;News amp; Opinion

"Imagine you're at a Christmas party. A 45-year-old teacher finds out you work for the DFEE. Will you spend the rest of the evening arguing the case for pay reform? Or will she tell you teaching's great, she's getting a pound;2,000 pay rise and would you like a top-up?

"Well that depends on how good you are."

So goes the Department for Education and Employment advert for a communications strategist.

Having failed to convince teachers and most of their unions of the value of performance-related pay, the department now wants a dynamic and proactive communications strategist to do the job.

With a salary of up to pound;46,000, the successful candidate may find it hard to gain any credibility with the many teachers stuck on half that figure, and the heads and deputies still aspiring to such an income.

The teacher associations say they don't know whether to laugh or cry at the advertisement, which describes the job as a "'management change' internal comunications challenge".

"Rather than change the message, they are trying to employ a new messenger - and at double the salary of teachers," said Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers.

"Teachers are not fools. They know what the score is. It makes the department look a bit silly."

Doug McAvoy, his counterpart at the National Union of Teachers, said: "The Government has tried to con teachers over performance-related pay and failed.

Now it's going to pay pound;46,000 for someone else to have another go at conning them."

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