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Mixed reasons for merit schemes;Salaries;Briefing;International

Switzerland. Swiss secondary teachers used to expect a starting salary of pound;30,000, gradually rising to pound;60,000 by retirement. However, performance-related pay has now been introduced in two of the 26 cantons, Schwytz and Zurich.

In Schwytz the motive was to encourage teachers to improve their teaching methods.

Henry Pauker, a grammar-school head explained that automatic pay rises still apply for the first 10 years of any teacher's career. They are then assessed annually by their head and have a chance of financial promotion every four years.

"The higher they rise on the pay scale, the more points they need to be promoted," he said.

Each year teachers can choose the two areas out of 22 in which they wish to be assessed. These range from basic teaching ability to personal commitment or academic publications.

In Zurich, performance-related increases were introduced in September after a three-year pay freeze to cut costs.

Teachers are divided on the merits of the system. Charlotte Peter, chairwomen of the primary teachers' union, says it's unfair. "It's mostly a way of saving money, and exerting control. To improve standards they should consult teachers rather than impose rules from the outside."

Ruedi Leutert, president of the association for grammar school teachers, is more enthusiastic. "We're quite happy with it as it assesses a teacher's overall competence, and not one or two features of his or her personality."

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