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Teachers' spines could be shortened

Sarah Cassidy and Jon Slater report on the issues on this year's financial agenda.

In future, the teachers' pay scales may no longer resemble the familiar tables shown on the right.

Plans to shorten the main pay scale to allow young staff to get to the top more quickly, are to be considered by the School Teachers Review Body, the independent group which recommends teachers' pay. "A more positive approach to the development of teachers' early careers" is needed, it says in its annual report, published last week. It plans to consult on the proposal over the coming year.

Meanwhile, schools should also make the most of current flexibilities to reward able staff, it recommends. "It is a matter of urgency that schools ... reward the very able through faster progression up the main pay scale and that they also award recruitment and retention allowances where it is appropriate. Any case for shortening the main pay scale must be looked at in that context."

The body's next report will also consider the future of the post-threshold pay scale. This year, it rejected the Department for Education and Employment's suggestion that teachers should meet "progressively more challenging" standards as they move up the scale.

However, the review body is to consider whether teachers on the post-threshold scale should retain points if they move schools. It is waiting for legal advice and information from the DFEE on how the upper scale is to be funded.

The report says: "We agree that the threshold uplift should be retained as a permanent entitlement. While we have accepted in principle that the same should apply to the further points on the upper pay scale, this raises complex issues for teachers who wish to move to another school."

Ministers have also been asked to reconsider plans to insist teachers give up a year's salary if they want to take a sabbatical. The DFEE has suggested that teachers could spread four years' pay over five years to earn a sabbatical during the final 12 months.

The review body said that the scheme, which is inspired by a Canadian programme, would prove "unattractive" and that a year may be too long for teachers to spend away from work.

But according to the review body these difficulties should not mean the end of sabbaticals. "We see great merit in sabbatical leave. We share the doubts put to us about the particular proposal and suggest that it should explore other possible approaches," it says.

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