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Patronage is not a way forward

A SYSTEM where differential pay awards are decided by headteachers is a nightmare.

I know of schools where heads of department reserved all the top sets for themselves, where being a ''friend'' of the head brought an easier timetable and promotion, where the converse brought a timetable of bottom sets; where exam success was everything and special needs teaching was not valued at all. I would not want to put greater powers of patronage into the hands of some headteachers.

I suspect that the difficulties inherent in awarding equitable and deserved differential pay are such that the Government may use the "carrot'' of performance-related pay to alter conditions of service for all teachers. There has been talk of shorter holidays, of more ''flexible'' working practices, of the desirability of homework clubs; of Saturday sports, literacynumeracy summer schools and other holiday extras.

Some cash could go to staff who perform extra duties voluntarily, such as supervising school dinners and detentions, serving on the parentteacher association, organising sporting, social and academic competitions and events, running the school website, editing the school magazine and representing the school on committees.

Rewarding teachers for extra duties undertaken and extra time worked is the most practical way forward.

David Williams, Park Road, Consett, Durham.

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