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Lower pay rise keeps Oratory out of the red

Teachers got 2.5 per cent. Clare Dean and Warwick Mansell report

TEACHERS at the London Oratory, the school Tony Blair's two older sons attend, received lower pay rises last year than the rest of the state sector.

Staff at the Catholic comprehensive in Fulham, west London, had a 2.5 per cent increase, while other teachers got 3.3 per cent.

London Oratory head John McIntosh said he had to set the rise low to avoid going into the red. "I don't think the staff were pleased, but they understood the reasons. " The Government intends to introduce legislation which will allow more schools to set their own pay and conditions. Labour had put a block on disapplication from national pay scales, but is now to reverse its policy.

The Oratory is one of four schools nationwide to have opted out of national pay and conditions. The others are Wyvern College in Salisbury, Al-Furquan primary in Birmingham and Islamia in Brent.

Just last year inspectors criticised the school for failing to avert a projected pound;250,000 deficit that led to parents being asked to contribute pound;30 a month.

The school accounts for the year ending March 2000 show a deficit of pound;107,827. This March there was a slight surplus of around pound;36,000 after cutting the maintenance budget to the bone.

The school, where Euan Blair is deputy head boy, did match this year's 3.7 per cent pay rise for teachers. And every one of the 27 staff eligible to apply for threshold payments did so successfully.

Oratory teachers get higher rates. Mr McIntosh said that although they were contracted to work 1,265 hours a year just like the rest of the state sector "there is an expectation that they will be involved in extra-curricular activities".

At Wyvern College in Salisbury, staff are paid an extra pound;1,114 a year for additional duties and their working year is extended from 1,265 hours to 1,345. They spend an extra 30 hours a year training and are expected to act as lunchtime supervisors for 50 minutes once a week. They also devote an hour every other week to enrichment activities, such as GCSE booster classes. The former grant-maintained school has the cash as a specialist technology college. All but three of the 35 staff have signed up to the deal. Pay and conditions are not affected otherwise.

Terence Herlihy, head of personal health and social education at Wyvern and a member of the National Union of Teachers, said that the move had been an unqualified success.

At Al-Furquan, teachers work 1,376 hours, taking on extra training including leading the children in prayer. For these additional duties they are paid a third more than their normal rate.

All new teachers, no matter what their experience, are put on a year's probation. Governors can extend this probation and can terminate a contract at a month's notice.

Teachers at Al-Furquan do not progress up the pay spine automatically. They agree a set of objectives annually with the head, which are reviewed to determine whether an extra point is granted. However, headteacher Zahida Hussein said no teacher had failed to pass this test since the system was introduced in 1998.

Abdullah Trevathan, head of Islamia primary in Brent, west London, would not comment this week. None of his teachers is a union member.

Jacky Griffin, Brent's director of education, said the school had hoped to offer extra training. In reality, there had been none. Pay and conditions were the same in all other respects.

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