A just reward

7th November 2008 at 00:00
Boosting your pay without going into management can be as simple as AST

Teachers are not, by and large, a mercenary bunch. "Most go into the profession because they want to teach and make a difference to the lives of children," says Liz Francis, director of the teachers' programme at the Training and Development Agency.

But if you don't want to become a manager and go down the headship career route, how can you ensure you still maximise your pay opportunities?

In January, the old management allowance scale ends and the transfer to the Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) scale is completed. The revised structure aims to cut the costs of management allowances, but it also hopes to reward cross-school roles as well as curriculum leadership. TLR 1 is still mostly for heads of departments, while TLR 2 recognises any teacher who has made an effort to invigorate learning - for example, by improving boys' writing.

But the new structure has caused some confusion and worry among teachers. Jane Broom-Lynne is a part-time primary teacher already at the top of the pay scale for her level. She has taken on special educational needs, which offers two levels of payment (see panel on next page). She has also become lead behaviour practitioner, has responsibility for continuing professional development and PSHE, but is still frustrated. "I do think I'm an excellent teacher and I love my job, but I feel stuck," she says.

So if, like Jane, you have already crossed the pay threshold - meaning that you have demonstrated a level of commitment to whole-school development at your annual performance review - but don't want to become a head, what can you do?

As Keith Bartley, chief executive of the General Teaching Council for England (GTCE), puts it: "As a system we need to find more means of motivating and retaining teachers who love teaching."

Jane could apply to be an Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) or, since 2006, Excellent Teacher (ET). These positions offer enhanced income and status in exchange for contributing 20 per cent of their time to developing teaching and learning practice inside and outside the school (AST) or continuing to be a beacon for excellent practice. However, such posts have to be budgeted, created and applied for, so she might have to change schools.

In Scotland, a teacher who has reached the top of the salary scale and maintained his or her CPD portfolio can apply to the General Teaching Council for Scotland for Chartered Teacher status. They will be required to complete 12 modules, such as self evaluation, learning and teaching, and working together, with one of the accredited higher education institutions (some can be claimed as prior learning), and they will have to pay for these modules.

But once they are completed successfully, they can see their salaries rise substantially, from pound;33,388 to pound;39,942, without having to take on further duties. This has been a bone of contention with headteachers who would like to see them playing a wider role in the school.

Applicants for chartered teacher status in Scotland don't currently require any endorsement from the head. The Scottish Government would like to see initial applications approved by senior school managers and the GTCS is consulting on this. There were 645 chartered teachers in Scotland in June, most of them in the 51-55 age bracket, and they are split evenly between primary and secondary.

For some teachers, simply moving schools can reinvigorate their career. Daisy Rana, an AST at Hillingdon School in west London, was head of a science department, but now "builds learning power" by introducing different learning styles across her school and others. A recent set of kinaesthetic lessons involved biology GCSE pupils reinforcing their understanding by physically recreating kidney parts in wool.

"I work with primary and secondary schools, helping them develop reflective, reciprocal, resourceful learning," she says. In a primary school, that might be asking a child who's forgotten their pencil what they are going to do about it. For A-level students, it might be stimulating them to make a physical map that reflects what they know about DNA printing.

"AST lets me be really focused on teaching and learning," Daisy says. But to some teachers, it feels like they're spending extra time and energy with pupils, yet they're not being rewarded for it, says Keith. "How can they be remunerated for their extra experience, life experience that is valuable but may leave them disadvantaged in their career?"

Sarah Gray works part-time at Southfields Community College in Wandsworth, London. She was previously head of history, and finds being an AST offers the best of both worlds: "You are in the classroom but also can do action research with colleagues."

In her three days a week, she trains NQTs, teaches 10 hours and "buddies" the new head of department. On top of this, she verifies Teacher Learning Academy collaborative inquiry projects of colleagues in their third years of teaching and has completed a project on pupil voice. She also goes out to cluster schools and workshops.

The best thing about the AST system is that it recruits and retains the best classroom teachers and rewards them for their one day a week sharing best practice with their own and others' colleagues, says Martin Flatman. He directs the National Assessment Agency for ASTs and ETs, which carries out all AST and ET assessments. The National Assessment Agency for ASTs and ETs is part ofVT Education and Skills. "Outstanding teachers always go beyond their brief," he says.

The AST application process looks for that extra mile, involving a full day of two lesson observations, a written submission of evidence and an in-depth interview based on it, as well as interviews with the headteacher, colleagues, parents and pupils. They are looking, says Martin, for professional attributes, such as the ability to inspire colleagues and work with them; for knowledge and understanding, not just of their subject but also of national developments, assessments and strategies; and for professional skills of pedagogy, research and, above all, the transmission of the joy of learning.

It's not all about extra money. "I'm a teacher; I don't want to spend time managing," says Simon Cobb, an AST at Barcombe CofE Primary School near Lewes in East Sussex. Simon is happy sharing technology practice in the area. Blogging, podcasting, running conferences and developing learning platforms have kept him and his class busy. "There's always something to learn from another school," he says. "But also I like teaching and get a buzz out of teaching teachers and leaving a school more enthusiastic about technology."

Headteachers can decide where on the seven-point AST scale (or the slightly lower ET scale) to award pay. Wages are higher in London, but so are housing costs and pupil problems. In recognition of this, the Government introduced its City Challenge for London, the Black Country and Greater Manchester, which offers several opportunities to coach, consult and mentor at different pay levels. In London, this includes a Chartered London Teacher scheme where teachers can register for a professional qualification and can receive a one-off payment of pound;1,000.

Teachers pursuing continuing professional development could join the more than 8,000 trying the TLA this year. Run by the GTCE, it offers teachers the chance to run their own action research, starting off with a six-week classroom project and graduating on to longer inquiries lasting a term, six months or a year, with implications for department, school and region or nation. There's no pay for doing it, but for this year it is still free to schools, who can also be paid for acting as centres to verify results.

Where ASTs share their knowledge outside school, ETs radiate good practice in school. But ET has been widely felt to be a divisive title, perhaps because the "excellent" tag may be misinterpreted by parents. This has meant teachers are reluctant to apply and so far only about 70 are in post. But that is slowly changing, says Martin.

Pat Holden gained ET status in 2006. When her school, Prescot County Primary in Knowsley, Merseyside, reorganised, TLR points were attached to management. "The leadership route never appealed," she says. "I always wanted to be a teacher." Unsure whether AST status might take her too far out of the classroom, Pat went for ET with her headteacher's backing. Pat gained it under AST criteria, with science as her speciality, but she sees her role as "cross-curricular and all ages". She mentors NQTs and works with another local school. Like many teachers, Pat acknowledges the benefits of promotion: "I've never really been driven by money, but it is nice to be recognised."


Special needs allowances

First: pound;1,912 a year

Second: pound;3,778 a year

Advanced Skills Teacher

From pound;35,794 to pound;54,417 outside London

From pound;42,559 to pound;61,188 in London

Excellent Teacher

From pound;37,672 to pound;48,437 outside London to pound;37,672 to pound;53,819 in London

Chartered London Teacher pound;1,000

Teaching and Learning Responsibility points

TLR1 between pound;6,997 and pound;11,841

TLR2 between pound;2,422 and pound;5,920

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