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Pay top of our wish list, staff tell Brown

LOW PAY and the burden of national tests are teachers' biggest concerns, according to a poll carried out by The TES.

More than 700 responded to the survey which asked what Gordon Brown's priorities should be for education. Despite teachers' salaries rising more quickly than other parts of the public sector, pay remains their main concern. Many said they couldn't get on the property ladder - some said keyworker housing was out of their reach.

School staff also urged the new Prime Minister to give them more freedom to teach by cutting national tests and putting a hold on new initiatives.

Gordon Brown placed special emphasis on education in a speech at Mansion House on Wednesday. He called it his "first priority". He supported more setting by ability in core subjects. Schools need to be held to account for making sure all children make progress, he said.

Mr Brown proposed a national council for educational excellence to bring to together business leaders, higher education and the voluntary sector. There needed to be a big drive to improve skills, greater diversity in schools, including employer-led skills academies, he said. All pupils should have access to after-school tuition in small groups. Young people at risk of dropping out should be given mentors by local businesses.

Tony Blair will leave Downing Street next Wednesday after a decade where he has taken a personal lead in education. But his education legacy is called into question today. Professor Alan Smithers, from Buckingham University, said international comparisons showed that the progress of 14 and 15 year olds was stalling.

Blair's final report, page 3 Education with Brown, page 5

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