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Primary concern over pay scheme

Responsibility payments will favour secondaries, reports William Stewart.

A new teachers' pay system - expected to be approved next week - will continue to disadvantage primary schools, claim staff.

The delayed School Teachers' Review Body report, due to be published next weeek, is likely to accept a plan agreed by the Government, employers and most of the teaching unions to replace management allowances with teaching and learning responsibility (TLR) payments.

The new system, with two payment ranges of pound;2,250-pound;5,500 and Pounds 6,500-pound;11,000 for extra responsibilities focused on teaching and learning, will mean thousands of teachers facing salary cuts by the end of 2008.

Most of those affected are likely to be based in secondaries, which pay more management allow-ances than primary schools. But staff at Portishead primary, near Bristol, say the lack of funding for the new responsibility payments will perpetuate the inequality they suffer compared with their secondary colleagues.

As key stage 2 co-ordinator at Portishead, Kate Sparks is one of only two staff at the school receiving a management allowance. She believes it is unfair that the school's budget prevents more colleagues from receiving the payments and is concerned that responsibility payments will do nothing to solve the problem.

"People are taking on huge areas of responsibility but at present there is not even enough money to pay everyone one management point," she said.

"Without extra funding, this new agreement is totally meaningless."

Lorraine Gribbon works as the school's ICT co-ordinator for no extra money, even though it involves "a lot of extra responsibility" covering training and support for teachers throughout the school. She has similar doubts about the new payments.

"It is all very well bringing out these incentives, but if the money is not there to fund it, then in the end all it will do is reduce morale," she said.

Mike Scriven, the school's head, welcomes the emphasis on teaching and learning, but thinks few primaries will have the budget to pay staff the top range of TLRs.

"The impact that one primary teacher can have within a school is much greater than that of a secondary teacher," he said. "If anything, I would like to see extra funding coming into primary schools to allow them to pay more than secondary schools and give their staff some just reward."

Mr Scriven said the pound;40,000 salaries for advanced skills science and maths teachers in secondary schools recommended in the agreement highlighted the unfairness between the two sectors.

"That is above some primary heads and most deputies," he said. "It is totally iniquitous. Where is the incentive to stay in primaries?"

The agreement also recommends an excellent teachers' scheme that would be available to the best teachers wanting to progress beyond level three of the upper scale and prepared to take on extra duties for salaries of Pounds 35,000.

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