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Some small change in pay reform

In the end, it seems, it has been much ado about not very much. The replacement of management allowances with teaching and learning responsibility payments brought dire warnings of widespread industrial unrest, the end of teachers' pastoral role and yet another blow to teacher morale.

Our survey of secondary schools (page 8) shows these fears have been confounded. Some teachers face the painful prospect of losing thousands of pounds in salary, not to mention status at school. But it is hard to argue against focusing scarce resources on standards rather than paying teachers for tasks that should now be carried out by support staff.

A bigger problem is the speed at which these changes were implemented.

Indeed, as we revealed last week, schools have had so little time to get to grips with the new system they have been making up their own pay scales for senior staff. In one case a school invented a TLR3 grade, a level of payment that does not exist.

Ironically, the Government's insistence on pushing through reform quickly may have restricted heads' room for manouevre. The end of December deadline for completion of staffing reviews in schools left heads with little time to convince staff of the need for radical change. With the anti-TLR National Union of Teachers eager to strike, most heads have avoided conflict by giving TLRs to the majority currently receiving management allowances. Only a hard core of heads have opted for the radical reform hankered after by ministers, so schools where heads of year do not teach will remain very much the exception rather than the rule.

Teachers whose allowances have been saved by this threat have reason to be grateful for that action.

Relief in the staffroom will turn to anger, however, if schools cannot afford to promote staff on the upper pay spine. If the Government is serious about keeping good teachers in the classroom, then it is this problem, rather than rows with its backbenchers about trust schools and the education Bill, which demands its attention.

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