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Rebellion simmers over pay

Plan to raise wages by just 2 per cent a year makes driving a truck an attractive option. William Stewart and Stephen Lucas report

Jeraldine McCarthy has a degree and certificate in education yet her brother who has no qualifications and drives a lorry earns more than she does.

"He brings home pound;400 a week. To be honest I have considered leaving teaching to become a lorry driver," said the religious studies teacher at Honywood school, Colchester, Essex. "You don't have to take your work home.

You just park up your HGV and that's it. I haven't got my licence but it might be worth getting."

Mrs McCarthy, 26, who earns pound;26,000, is among the growing number of teachers who are angry at government plans to give them an annual 2 per cent pay rise between September 2006 and August 2008.

A 2 per cent rise would give Mrs McCarthy, who has been teaching for four years, an extra pound;520 a year from September 2006 - the equivalent of pound;10 a week.

Ministers are prepared to offer newly-qualified teachers an extra 0.25 per cent, taking their annual rise up to 2.25 per cent, or pound;431.12 a year, in an attempt to attract new entrants to the profession.

But this suggestion in the Government's evidence to the School Teachers'

Review Body - which recommends pay increases for all teachers - has outraged senior staff.

"Experienced staff are not going to train NQTs if they are not getting equivalent pay rises," said Jeffrey Carter, 56, the deputy head of Honywood, a 950-pupil comprehensive.

"It seems a funny old business if the people being trained are getting bigger pay rises than those training them.

"Teachers are a willing bunch but this is throwing sand in their faces. It is asking for trouble. You only need a nucleus of staff to say no and the training system that has been built up over years will be gone."

Their warnings came as the second largest teachers' union added its weight to calls for teachers to receive an inflation-busting deal.

In evidence submitted to the review body, the NASUWT has called for the next teachers' pay award to be substantial and above inflation.

Chris Keates, general secretary, said teachers and heads had responded to the Government's focus on education magnificently. "Standards continue to rise," she said. "This should also be reflected in the level of pay."

All the classroom teacher unions have now called for an above-inflation rise, while the heads' unions want higher pay for school leaders to restore the gap with classroom teachers.

But despite their opposition to the Government's proposal, four unions, the NASUWT, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Secondary Heads Association and the Professional Association of Teachers, all signed the joint Rewards and Incentives Group (RIG) evidence that formed the basis for its case. The Government's proposal for a 2 per cent rise - linked to inflation, which is currently 1.9 per cent - was made in a separate submission.

The four unions will also give evidence to the review body with the Government in a joint session.

The joint RIG evidence said that average classroom teacher pay had increased by 15 per cent above inflation since 1997 and pay was "no longer the key priority" in seeking to improve teacher recruitment and retention.

The separate NASUWT evidence said the improvements represented a major step in the right direction but more than a quarter of teachers were still planning to leave. Supplementary evidence from the employers stressed the need for an affordable deal.

The review body is due to report by October 28. The current teachers' pay deal was also tied to expected inflation levels and delivered 2.5 per cent rises in April 2004 and April 2005, with the latter to be topped up to 3.25 per cent in September.

That compared with 3 per cent for the military, 3.225 per cent for GPs and nurses, 3 per cent for hospital consultants and judges, an average of 4.2 per cent for senior civil servants and 2.5 per cent for the prison service in 200506.


Letters 25

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