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Pay or not to pay

I am pleased The TES continues to cover the teachers' pay issue but surprised that you describe the NUT's pay proposals as seeking a "bonus payment" for teachers ("NUT demands 10 per cent pay hike plus cash bonus", TES, February 20).

Teachers' pay increases since 2004 have been below inflation every year. In real terms, teachers are 6 per cent worse off - taking Pounds 1,000 a year from NQTs and much more from older teachers. This situation should never have been allowed to occur. The NUT is seeking an increase from September 2009 which reverses that pay cut and puts teachers' pay back to where it was in 2004. Hardly a "bonus payment".

Further steps will then be needed to make teachers' pay competitive for the longer term. Our submission to the School Teachers' Review Body and accompanying research shows teachers start on lower pay than in other professions and then fall further behind.

Graduates' interest in teaching is in long-term decline. Pay is a part of the reason.

We cannot rely on the recession to improve matters - previous experience shows that when the economy improves, graduates will again look elsewhere.

Tim Harrison, London regional secretary, National Union of Teachers.

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