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Northern Ireland: parity is unravelling

Education has been a devolved function since the province became a separate entity in 1920.

Since then there has been almost complete parity with England on teachers'

pay. This is because, until the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, the government of Northern Ireland was either under direct rule from Westminster or the control of Unionists who sought to undermine devolution by reproducing Westminster laws line by line.

But since 2000 and the introduction of the upper pay scale in England, that parity has begun to unravel. Wrangles over the same system in Northern Ireland delayed its introduction by two years. It was only backdated by a year, leaving experienced teachers lagging behind their English counterparts. They have also failed to benefit from the workload reductions enjoyed in England and Wales. The Northern Irish version of the workforce agreement - the Curran review - has still to be implemented due to a lack of funding.

This in turn has meant the changeover from management allowances to teaching and learning responsibility payments (TLRs) has yet to take place, although allowances were frozen in 2003.

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