Q I am head of design and technology and get a teaching and learning responsibility payment (TLR2) but I have seen posts similar to mine advertised on a higher salary. Can I ask my head for a rise?

A In the past, I would have said yes unreservedly. However, since the introduction of the staffing review in autumn 2005, matters have become more complicated.

During the review process, schools were supposed to establish arrangements for different teaching posts within schools and determine the extra salary they should pay for teaching and learning responsibilities which accompanied these duties.

After a year of studying the process, it seems clear that for some subjects most schools played safe and went for the same rate for the job almost regardless of the size of the school. This seems to apply particularly to those with responsibility for English, maths and science departments.

However, in subjects such as yours, there seems to be more variation, with some schools paying on a TLR1 scale (pound;6,663-pound;11,275) and others, like yours, paying on a TLR2 (pound;2,306-pound;5,638), normally towards the top end. I suppose it probably depended on what value the headteacher placed on the subject.

So what can you do? Firstly, start collecting job adverts for comparable posts to back up your case. If you don't want to do this yourself, then those of us who monitor such factors will supply the information, but generally not for free. Once you have the ammunition that proves most people doing a similar job are paid more, it is time to present the evidence to your head and ask whether the governors will reconsider the present TLR payment.

If they had reached their decision after an exhaustive review, they might be unwilling to change the structure just for you in case others follow suit. Then you have two options - either you stay put and accept the salary, or you start applying for one of the other posts you see advertised at a higher salary. Which option is best for you will depend on your personal circumstances.

However, with the recent rise in interest rates, you may feel the extra pay will win out over loyalty to the school. Perhaps the act of going to your head to ask for a reference may finally persuade the school to look again rather than face the hunt for a replacement

John Howson is a recruitment analyst and visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University.

To ask him a question, email him at askjohnhowson@tes.co.uk

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