TEACHERS' bids to cross the new performance threshold will be vetted by assessors, who could earn more in six days than the successful applicants will receive.
The 2,000 assessors, who are being hired by private consultants, will be paid up to pound;375 a day for vetting the applications of up to 16 teachers, looking in detail at five.
Cambridge Education Associates - the firm brought in by ministers to take over Islington's ailing education service - is looking for 200 full-time and 2,000 part-time assessors, paying a daily rate of between pound;250 and pound;375.
A further 30 regional co-ordinators are also being hired on salaries of up to pound;40,000, with a company car thrown in. Full-time assessors will also be paid a retainer of pound;50 for every week they do not work.
But with assessments due to start in September, and several hundred assessors needing to be trained so they can run conferences for heads in the spring, the timescale is tight - and the standards expected of threshold applicants are still in draft form.
Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, warned that teachers would be deeply unhappy at the amount being paid to assessors.
"There's more to be made out of telling teachers how to do the job than there is from doing the job itself," he said.
Under the propoals, teachers at the top of their pay scale will be able to apply from Easter to cross a performance threshold. Success will mean a rise of about pound;2,000 from September and access to a higher pay scale rising up to pound;35,000.
All the assessors - expected to be recruited from serving heads, senior teachers, consultants and inspectors - will receive free training. Consultants CfBT are the Department for Education and Employment's preferred bidder for the training contract.
As part of the vetting process the assessors can hold discussions with the teachers and their heads and carry out classroom observations. If a situation arises where the assessor and the headteacher cannot agree on who should cross the threshold the process will be aborted in the school until the next academic year.
Brian Oakley-Smith, CEA's managing director, said: "The timetable is extremely tight. But we need to get it done to fulfil the promise that teachers will be assessed in the next academic year."
He added that it was impossible to predict how much the whole exercise will cost or how many assessors would be needed. All will depend on how many teachers apply.
"We don't know whether the bulk of applications will be in the first year, or whether there will be a slightly nervous start. Or whether primary will be different from secondary," he said.