Local salary deals may herald end of national structure

But headteachers and unions are likely to oppose ministers' plans, reports Warwick Mansell

ACROSS-the-board national salary rises for teachers could be replaced by a system of local pay, under new proposals put forward by ministers this week.

The Government wants schools to have much greater freedom to set teachers'

salaries to take account of cost-of-living and recruitment issues.

Meanwhile, ministers propose that teachers' pay should rise only in line with inflation over the next three years. Both moves face a rough ride from headteachers and unions. the National Union of Teachers describing them as "appalling".

The plans are outlined in government evidence to the School Teachers'

Review Body which is considering changes to teachers' pay to 2006.

It says Education Secretary Estelle Morris is "attracted to a move to local pay over time which will better reflect local differences in costs and rest more responsibility for pay in the hands of headteachers".

It could herald the end of national across-the-board pay increases.

It argues that national rises ignore local recruitment and retention problems, and "the fact that the standard of living that can be enjoyed on the average teaching salary varies substantially from one place to another".

One future model under the new system could be "top-up" arrangements in which headteachers in particular areas were given cash to boost salaries of their staff.

The paper rejects letting regional bodies or local education authorities determine local pay structures.

It follows pressure from the Treasury, which wants locally-determined pay across the public services for similar reasons.

Thousands of successful schools are to get a chance to drop national pay arrangements under legislation to come in next year. Both moves will need heads' support.

Eamonn O'Kane, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "This would be hugely iniquitous, potentially pitting teacher against teacher and school against school. It is likely to lead to more local pay disputes and will be unpopular with heads."

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said:

"We have a national education service. We need a national pay system, backed by a national funding formula, not local pay."

The paper rejects calls from unions for large pay rises, pointing to big increases since 1997 and arguing that the Government's priority is cutting teachers' workloads.

The paper also raises the prospect of super-salaries for chief executives of federations of schools and heads of advanced schools and a boost to the pay of Advanced Skills Teachers.

It wants schools to stop using management points to reward classroom teachers and rejects a major across-the-board increase in London allowances in favour of "targeted" incentives for teachers in specific inner-city schools.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you