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Local pay back on agenda

Localised teacher pay has been put back on the agenda by government, despite fierce opposition from its partner unions.

In her latest remit letter to the School Teachers' Review Body, Ruth Kelly, Education Secretary, asks it to consider whether there is scope for "movement towards more locally-determined pay".

It is the second such request from ministers in less than three years. The first, made to the review body in August 2002, was strongly opposed by all the teaching unions. Since then most have formed a close working partnership with the Government on teacher pay and conditions through the rewards and incentives group. But that has not prevented Ms Kelly from revisiting what is a hugely divisive issue.

Teachers' pay and conditions have not been devolved to the Assembly, and some unions have warned that regional pay would mean lower wages for Welsh teachers. But around half of those surveyed by TES Cymru earlier this year wanted their pay determined in Cardiff, and the move is also backed by UCAC, the Welsh-medium teachers union, and Plaid Cymru.

John Dunford, Secondary Heads Association general secretary, condemned regional pay as a "very blunt instrument".

Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said:

"The strength of opposition to local pay within the education system has been made very clear indeed to the Government. I think they don't know when to give up."

The remit letter asks the review body to consider an overall teachers' pay settlement from September 2006 to August 2008. The current deal, agreed in 2003, will see a staged 3.25 per cent pay rise in place by September.

It also raises whether teachers should be paid more for doing on-the-job training, mentoring or coaching colleagues, or working in challenging schools. Interested parties have until May 9 to submit evidence to the STRB.

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