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Q. I am on M3 (pound;22,899 outside London) with four years' experience. I should be moving to M4 (pound;24,660) in September. Unfortunately, the headteacher, who said she would review my pay, has left and I don't have anything in writing. I spoke to the bursar and she said she was unable to change my pay scale. I had an interview for second in English. I'm not a very forward person and I felt uncomfortable talking about money. If they offer me the post, would it be inappropriate for me to ask what my Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) value is? And for my main scale to move up to M5 (Pounds 26,604) in September?.

A. Congratulations on your interview for the English post. The job description should have stated what the TLR value is. This is not negotiable after the event. In a large department, I would expect the value to be at or close to the top of the TLR2 range (pound;2,306- pound;5,638). The school should have conducted a staffing review in late 2005 and the post should have been included in the outcome. If it has been added to the structure since, it should have been done in a transparent manner. If you think the rules have not been followed, consult your professional association. As to the point on your main pay: if you have nothing in writing, there is little chance of being accelerated up the scale unless your performance is considered exceptional. It is important to get these matters sorted out at the beginning; the days of nods and winks are over. Everything should be properly documented. I am sorry if you take a year longer to reach the top of the main scale. An alternative would be for the school to offer you a retention allowance until you reach the top of the main scale to cover the salary difference. Again, your association might help achieve this compromis.

John Howson is a recruitment analyst and visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University. To ask him a question, email him at askjohnhowson@

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