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It's by no means money for nothing

The threshold application is hard work. Jill Parkin advises on what you need to meet the standards

If you've moved a bit nearer the pay threshold, it may be time to check your credentials so you can apply for an upgrade this autumn. Thanks to the new pay deal, a change in the lower pay spine means the pound;25,746 threshold can be reached in five years instead of seven.

So how do you apply? Download the application form from the Department for Education website. See your school's threshold assessment support pack. Then the real work begins.

Heads and external assessors judge applications on eight criteria. You'll need to prove that you meet each one by providing evidence from your day-to-day work.

* Knowledge and understanding. You need to prove that your subject knowledge is up to date - so mug up.

* Planning lessons. You must prove that you plan for pupils' individual needs, that you have a clear homework policy and that your pupils understand the learning objectives.

* Classroom management. You must show a variety of effective lesson plans. This includes discipline strategies and support for those who need it. This is a chance to show that you're efficient and creative.

* Monitoring progress. You need to show that expectations are based on pupil records, that you assess routinely and give feedback to your pupils, parents and heads.

* Pupil progress. Tricky one, this - designed to prove that pupils do well because of what you do. Comparisons should be made with their previous records or national standards.

* Personal development. You must prove that you've used your professional development for the pupil's good. Include whole-school in-service days, mentoring, individual training courses or personal research.

* School development. You must show that you contribute to the school's aspirations. No doubt you've done much to enhance pupils' understanding of the school's ethos.

* Professional characteristics. This is your chance to show that you challenge and support pupils to do their best. Ask yourself how you reward achievement, how you deal with hindrance to progress, how you set targets and motivate the children. You should also show how you identify cause and effect in pupils' learning.

External assessors visit the school to check that the head has applied standards correctly. They may talk to applicants or even observe a lesson. Assessors can endorse the head's decisions or not. Heads must record on the application form whether each standard has been met, and note areas for further development.

Teachers are entitled to feedback from headteachers on each criterion, and to advice on further development. Where the assessor has substituted his or her judgment for the head's, the teacher will get a copy of the assessor's reasons. If you believe you've been wrongly assessed, you can apply to the review assessor.

So it's simple - assuming that the Government comes up with the shortfall of threshold cash identified by unions and the School Teachers' Review Body.

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