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'It's not new... it's a red herring';What teachers say

Stephen Collings, headteacher, Bowland high school, Clitheroe, Lancashire: "My greatest concern is about what type of criteria will make a superteacher. As a head my view is that the education of a child is very much a team matter and never the work of just one person. I think it will be very divisive.

"It's right that people should be rewarded for their expertise and I want to see people encouraged to stay in the classroom. But this rate of pound;40,000 is over the top. As a head of a small secondary school I could see people earning more than me without my level of responsibility, which isn't a gripe but is definitely odd. I'm unhappy with the whole idea and am backing the NUT's view."

Adrian Coles, head of science, Bowland high school: "Personally, I think it's good to keep teachers in the classroom. I do think it's a shame when the most senior teachers are lost into management. But I can see it would be divisive. If you saw the right person getting the money - someone who you respected and really worked hard, then that would be fine. But if it was awarded to someone who didn't deserve it, that would cause big problems with staff and morale."

Michael Griffiths, deputy head, Northampton School for Boys, Northampton: "I think it's a red herring designed to distract us all from other matters. It's not a particularly new idea and I've never met a teacher who thought it was a good one. And it doesn't really make sense. On the one hand, the Government tells us the superteachers will spend more time in the classroom, then in the next breath we're told they will be out of the classroom mentoring others - almost like advisory teachers.

"Besides, everyone I know who reaches a certain level wants to go into management, not stay in the classroom. There comes a point when 28 pupils aren't enough, you need to have a wider influence over the educational policy of more children. It's nonsense and very unclear. Would you apply or be nominated? Who would decide who gets the superteacher level - the head, the governors, the local authority? Who would pick up the bill?" Spencer Brown, history teacher, Sandown high school, Isle of Wight: "There's always a gap between policy and practice and I'm unclear about how this one would work in practice. It would throw in a whole new tier of management and change the informal structures all schools work out differently for themselves. Teachers are funny beings, we see ourselves as equal and find anything that says otherwise hard to stomach. We need to be handled sensitively and this is one idea that would need to be implemented very sensitively."

Nadene Ghouri

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