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Pay claim aims to beat inflation

SCOTTISH teachers will be aiming for inflation-busting pay rises of at least 3.3 per cent to match colleagues south of the border after David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary, backed a package of wage reforms that includes elements of the failed Millennium Review talks north of the border.

Teachers in England and Wales will receive 3.3 per cent across the board in April but half the profession at the top of the scale who cross a performance threshold will from September gain a further pound;2,000 and a chance to earn up to pound;30,000 based on their contribution to schools. Ministers have set aside pound;1 billion over two years to finance the threshold payments.

The so-called "super teachers" or advanced skils teachers could earn up to pound;43,000.

In Scotland, unions and employers expect a quick settlement in April before the big changes emanating from the McCrone inquiry into pay and conditions sweep in later in the year.

Unions south of the border remained unconvinced. The National Union of Teachers said they would be worse off than other professions, with a starting salary pound;2,000 lower. The Professional Association of Teachers described the deal as "an insult".

Cash-strapped local authorities complain they budgeted for 3 per cent - 1.6 per cent above inflation - and cannot fund the package imposed by ministers. They are pound;110 million out of pocket, said Graham Lane of the Local Government Association.

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