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Performance over thorniest issue;Review of the year;News

THE longest running and most contentious issue has been performance-related pay. Details were set out in January and immediately attacked by the teacher unions, particularly the intention to link pay to pupils' results. The proposals include giving teachers at point nine - at present 250,000 (around half the profession) - the option of being assessed to cross a performance threshold, which would secure them a pound;2,000 rise, and move them on to a performance-related pay scale.

In February the National Union of Teachers warned members would boycott the appraisal arrangements if they were imposed in September; the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers objected to those moving to a higher scale having to sign a separate contract; and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and heads' unions said they were "byzantine" and "unworkable".

Ministers faced a rough ride at the teacher conferences with strikes threatened for the first time in a decade. Estelle Morris announced a delay until 2000 for compulsory appraisal at the NASUWT conference and said post-threshold teachers would not be on different contracts. Teachers found allies in the Confederation of British Industry who said PRP linked to pay wouldn't work. But Tony Blair vowed in June at a headteachers' conference not to back down on the plans.

Guidelines were published in July for performance-related salaries for heads. The HayGroup, the consultancy firm advising the Government on implementing the plans, estimated that 3,000 advisers might be needed to help governors and schools. At the Labour party conference, David Blunkett said he thought teachers were coming on side. The pay review body will publish its report, setting out many of the Green Paper proposals, in the new year.

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