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Salaries cut in revamp of recruitment bonuses

Up to 10,000 teachers will not receive their full pay rise this year because of changes to the bonus system that aims to encourage staff to remain in challenging jobs.

But they will be better off than ministers had intended after the School Teachers' Review Body criticised government plans to dock pound;500 from their annual salaries. Education Secretary David Blunkett has now accepted the review body's recommendation that they should lose no more than pound;250 a year.

The staff who will be affected received bonuses under the old system of "recruitment and retention" points that was revamped in September. For example, under the previous system a recruitment point would have been worth pound;1,485 to a teacher at the top of the scale. But from September 2000 such a teacher might have been awarded only the first allowance of pound;909.

The difference of pound;576 has since been safeguarded so that no teacher would be worse off under the changes. But now up to pound;250 will be deducted from the teacher's pay packet when they get a pay rise - in this case paying back pound;576 over three years.

Although the review body argued that a pound;500 deduction was too great, it said it understood why the DFEE wished "to move on from safeguarded entitlements within a reasonable amount of time". Only a minority of teachers would e affected, its report says, because schools had made limited use of the old bonus system to tackle recruitment and retention problems.

The review body's 1999 teachers' pay survey found that fewer than 2 per cent of classroom teachers nationally and 10 per cent in London received any recruitment and retention spine points. Just 1,000 classroom teachers had received an excellence point.

The report says: "A more flexible approach is required by schools that have recruitment and retention problems. With better funding for the new pay structure, the new allowances should be more widely used, especially by schools in a wide range of challenging circumstances and not just those in special measures."

Sarah Cassidy

Schools can obtain copies of the pay review body's report from the DFEE. It is also available on the DFEE website


Key recommendations

* the range of allowances should be extended upwards by the creation of a fifth worth pound;5,085;

* use of any of the allowances should be at the discretion of individual schools;

* relevant bodies should be encouraged to consider using allowances in the form of a bonus to a teacher who remains in post at a challenging school.

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