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Rewards for doing the job properly

As the first fruits from the Government's pound;60m achievement awards scheme are distributed, managers have to decide who will receive them. Karen Thornton reports

Teachers at Bewsey Lodge primary can look forward to something extra in their pay packets to accompany their successful Office for Standards in Education inspection.

The school in Warrington, Cheshire, is to receive around pound;6,280 in staff bonuses for above-average improvements in 11-year-olds' performance in national tests over the past three years.

If it were to be split equally between the teachers and classroom assistants, each would get nearly pound;300 under the Government's new pound;60 million school achievement awards scheme.

Headteacher Dennis Gould and the school's governors have yet to decide how to distribute the money. He said: "We are delighted. It's a recognition that we are doing something right."

Bewsey Lodge is one of 6,800 mainstream and special schools, nurseries and pupil-referral units which this week found out they will receive thousands of pounds for staff bonuses. A typical 200-pupil primary will get around pound;5,000 and a 1,000-pupil secondary pound;25,000.

But schools minister Estelle Morris said: "Schools should be proud of winning an achievement award. It celebrates sucess and gives governing bodies the opportunity to give the whole staff team a tangible reward."

The money can only be used for staff payments - not for refurbishing the staff room or restocking the school library. DFEE guidance says dividing it equally between all eligible staff is "the simplest approach, and one that celebrates whole-school achievement most effectively".

But schools can single out individuals or teams. Support staff, such as classroom assistants and peripatetic teams, are also eligible. If governing bodies do agree a differentiated package, they must justify their decision, says DFEE guidance.

They must also be careful not to discriminate by gender, ethnic origin or disability. Being on long-term sick or maternity leave should not mean missing out on a bonus.

Local education authorities will verify that schools have used their entire award for staff bonuses, and governing bodies must ensure records are kept of individual payments. The DFEE may sample records.

Teaching unions and the headteacher and governor associations fear payments could create friction between staff over who should receive the one-off taxable bonuses (see TES, February 2).

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