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Q: I've heard that if you receive a management allowance, you cannot be awarded point three on the upper pay spine, because you would end up owing the school money. Is this true?

A: I never cease to wonder at some of the myths there are around about teachers' pay. The first thing to clear up is that as of 2006, management allowances were replaced by teaching and learning responsibility payments, although some teachers with protected salaries for up to three years will still be receiving them.

Now to your question on teachers' pay. The first thing to understand is that salaries range across a main scale of six points (pound;20,133 to pound;29,427, outside London) and an upper scale of three points (pound;31,878 to pound;34,281). Most teachers will be paid on one of these scales. The exceptions are Excellent Teachers, who have a set salary (pound;35,874) and Advanced Skills Teachers, who have their own pay scale (from pound;34,083 to pound;51,819).

The teaching and learning responsibilities, so-called TLRs, are awarded for extra duties. Just to keep everyone on their toes, these are arranged the opposite way around to the main and upper scales - so a TLR1 (pound;6,663 to pound;11,275) is always worth more than a TLR2 (pound;2,306 to pound;5,638). Don't ask me why.

As you can see, it is perfectly possible for a teacher on point three on the upper pay spine to receive a TLR as well. It is simply an additional payment. Plus, some teachers may qualify for a SEN allowance if they teach statemented pupils (either pound;1,866 or pound;3,687). Schools may also make extra payments for recruitment and retention purposes and can offer non-cash benefits such as laptops.

Academies are allowed to fix their own pay scales. Finally, as per the Government's pay and conditions document, teachers in London are paid more, to reflect the increased cost of living. Staff in inner London will be paid the most, with those in outer London and fringe areas also benefiting.

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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