Skip to main content

Pay phase no one wants to go through

The Government stands accused of deceiving the profession over salaries. Frances Rafferty opens The TES's eight-page report on the 1996 award

Teacher recruitment and morale will not have been helped by last week's announcement of a 3.75 per cent pay award or the Government's decision to phase it in, according to teachers' leaders.

The Secondary Heads Association calculates that delaying the full payment until December makes the award worth 3.08 per cent - a below-inflation figure. John Sutton, the union's general secretary, said: "The presentation of this year's award has been a deception." Another union leader said Gillian Shephard, the Education and Employment Secretary, was taking Michael Heseltine's advice to pay one's debts as late as possible.

Local authorities say that while the phasing of the pay award helps them in the short term, it only stores up trouble for the following year. They say the Pounds 100 million saved by phasing in the award will only have to be found later - on top of other expenditure in 1997. The effect of the award will vary from council to council. Those which budgeted for 3 per cent should be able to manage, but will be unable to pay for the extra staff required to cope with rising numbers of pupils. The review body was told by Mrs Shephard that an extra 5,500 teachers will be needed in 1996-97.

The local authority associations have also accused the Government of deception over its claims for the extra Pounds 800m Gillian Shephard says she won for education in last year's budget negotiations.

The Association of Metropolitan Authorities say the 4.4 per cent increase she claims can only be achieved by cutting other services or increasing council tax. A letter signed by the Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat chairs of the AMA told Mrs Shephard her battle with the Treasury resulted in a pyrrhic victory at the expense of other local government services.

The School Teachers' Review Body, chaired by John Gardiner, said in its report: "The evidence on affordability points to no precise conclusions."

Union reaction to the report varies. Heads' leaders can be described as "underwhelmed" with the content (and unimpressed with their rise). They are also concerned that their pay, once in post, is to be determined by the governing body based on performance criteria. However, the classroom unions are more angry and disappointed.

They are not convinced the review body has grasped the frustrations and stresses in the classroom. They are also concerned that John Gardiner and his team have not addressed the potential for shortages. Too little has been done to encourage new entrants and if the crisis bites it may be too late. But the main bone of contention is the review body's decision not to tackle class size or non-contact time, saying these are better left as management issues.

The unions wanted mandatory limits on class size and the safeguarding of teachers' non-contact time. Peter Smith, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: "Teachers will be profoundly disappointed that the review body has done nothing about conditions of service. By saying that class size, workload and contact time are management issues and should be solved at school level it is abrogating its responsibility."

The decision to award a larger rise to lower-paid teachers (points 0-3 will get between 4.32 per cent and 4.87 per cent) to attract new entrants has not impressed Kerry George, assistant secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers.

She said: "They have missed the point. The main concern is where people will be five years later. The earning potential comes to an abrupt stop and graduates in other professions start to overtake." The review body notes that 70 per cent of the teachers are paid on points 9 to 13, currently Pounds 20,145 to Pounds 26,106, and have limited opportunities to progress further.

A review of teachers' progress discovered that 68 per cent remained on the same point score from one year to the next with 27 per cent gaining an extra point for experience and extra responsibilities. Hardly any points were awarded for excellence or to recruit or retain staff.

In view of this the review body has decided to double the number of points on the classroom teachers' 18-point spine by adding half points, so the scale runs 0 to 0.5 to 1 to 1.5 and so on. Points awarded for qualifications and experience will remain the same, but the half points may now be awarded for extra responsibilities, for excellence or to retain or recruit staff.

"It would be for schools individually to decide how to use the new smaller sums, or multiples of them, within their overall pay structures to produce enhancements which met particular circumstances, from which more or fewer teachers might benefit," says the review body.

SHA is largely happy with the new scale, the NAHT would have preferred to be able to make awards between the point values, but the main classroom unions are furious.

The National Union of Teachers, the ATL, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers and the Professional Association of Teachers united against this option when first proposed by the review body. They believe it could be used by schools to depress teachers' wages.

The ATL's Peter Smith said: "The effect of the half points will be that teachers will receive or be offered peanuts for substantial responsibilities and work." In practice this could mean a teacher being awarded the equivalent of 50p extra a lesson for "excellence".

Mr Smith is also sceptical about the new rule to allow returners to the profession to make themselves cheaper by foregoing their experience points: "It is a charter for Dutch auctions and it will have the most impact on women, who are most likely to return after a break."

The review body said it would undertake another workload survey. Despite this many critics say it sides with management - a view shared by Nigel de Gruchy, NASUWT general secretary. He believes the report reflects heavy Government influence and worries that the review body members all have a management background.

"The voice of the classroom teacher is not heard," he said. "The review body is storing up trouble for itself. It notes that two-thirds are aged 40 or over and a quarter will be 50 or over from April. If they don't do something soon to stop the 'hit-50-and-run' brigade going for early retirement, they will have to build a Berlin-style wall to keep teachers in schools."


* Rise of 3.75 per cent to be paid in phases. 2.75 per cent by April 1. Remainder by December 1;

* New teachers on points 0-3 of the pay spine will get rises of between 4.32 and 4.87 per cent;

* The 18-point pay spine for classroom teachers to include half points to be used at schools' discretion;

* Teachers returning to the profession may relinquish points in order to make themselves cheaper;

* Part-time teachers and deputies with a significant teaching commitment to be paid for undertaking in-service training at weekends or after school;

* The movement of heads and deputies on the pay scale on performance grounds to be determined by governors in accordance with criteria agreed by heads, deputies and governors in each school. This will take place from September 1997 to allow time to agree indicators of performance for 199697; * Schools to be told that all aspects of a teacher's duties, including work outside the classroom, for example sporting activities, can be taken into account when awarding excellence points.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Latest stories