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A million a day to improve standards

Minister warns that any of the pound;365m spent on pay, must be accompanied by better performance, reports Harvey McGavin

COLLEGES will receive an extra million pounds a day as part of a huge performance-related pay deal with ministers.

They have been told that the new money should not be used to fund across-the-board pay rises but to reward top-performing teachers in the strongest hint yet that the

Government wants to see "superlecturers" in every college.

Lifelong learning minister Malcolm Wicks told the Association of Colleges' annual conference, in Harrogate, this week that the further education budget for 2001-2 would be increased by pound;365 million, taking the total extra investment in the sector over the next three years to pound;1.5 billion.

He reminded colleges that this was "money for something" and called on them to improve quality assurance and management information systems, increase achievement and reduce drop-out rates which he said were "way too high".

In a rare ministerial acknow-

ledgement of the sector's pay crisis, he said: "We recognise that there have been increasing concerns about the impact of sustained efficiency requirements on the ability of FE colleges to award appropriate pay rises. And we know in some cases this has meant no pay rise at all, or rises below those in other public-sector areas.

"But this is far from saying that our extra investment should be funnelled into general pay rises. We expect something for something, and so must colleges expect this of their staff."

He said colleges must restructure to meet the challenges of modernisation and professional development that ministers were expecting of schools - a clear reference to the proposals on performance-related pay contained in the Green Paper on teachers remuneration.

The best practitioners should be persuaded to stay in the classroom, he said. "The excellent FE teacher has to be enabled to continue teaching and should be properly re-warded for doing so. The very good teacher should be encouraged."

"We are providing more re-sources for schools and for FE. The question of performance must be linked to pay. That must be recognised."

Ministers have been keeping a close eye on Derby Tertiary College, Wilmorton, where enhanced pay for superlecturers was introduced earlier this year. The scheme, launched with their blessing, has been successful and the college is keen to expand the scheme.

The FE budget for 2001-2 includes pound;160m from the standards fund - twice what it will be next year - and a pound;45m increase to pound;100m in capital and IT . Sums for 16 to 19-year-olds will be increased by pound;60m to pound;1.65bn and for adults by pound;180m to pound;1.98bn, increases of 3.8 per cent and 10 per cent respectively over next year.

The money will not be allocated directly to colleges but will be channelled through the new local learning and skills councils which will have "significant budget responsibility", the minister said.

He added: "The great majority of the pound;5bn budget of the Learning and Skills Council will inevitably depend on decisions at local level."

Local councils will look at how colleges' plans matched the needs of learners and employers "not in a heavy-handed Eastern bloc fashion ... but in the spirit of pragmatism that informs the best English institutions".

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