Call to scrap superteachers

31st August 2001 at 01:00
Unions demand simplified pay scale allowing all classroom staff to earn up to pound;43k. Warwick Mansell reports.

UNIONS want an overhaul of teachers' pay scales, giving all experienced staff the chance to earn up to pound;43,000 annually and allowing young colleagues to progress faster.

They are poised to urge ministers to phase out the "superteacher" grade and "fast-track" scheme in an attempt to offer a more unified pay structure. They also want an end to recruitment and retention bonuses, which they say are just "sticking plasters" rather than permanent solutions to the staffing crisis.

The push to scrap the advanced-skills grade came as the Government admitted it had missed its recruitment target by almost 80 per cent. It has recruited only 1,052 "superteachers" in three years, against a target of 5,000.

The proposals - yet to be finalised - will come in a joint submission by all five unions in England and Wales to the School Teachers' Review Body next week, a draft of which has been seen by The TES.

The paper proposes a radical simplification of pay scales, with greater rewards to classroom practitioners and, in return, a dramatic cut in the number of bonuses paid to staff.

The unions - who have modelled much of their work on the Scottish system - envisage the number of points on the basic scale being cut from nine to six. This would drastically cut the time young teachers take to beome eligible for the threshold.

The starting salary for those who crossed the threshold would be raised from pound;24,843 to pound;28,000.

Teachers on the upper pay scale would progress towards "chartered teacher" status - a higher grade, modelled on one now operating in Scotland. This would mean they could earn up to pound;43,000 in the classroom, compared to the current pound;31,128.

The unions say their proposals would remove the need for the advanced skills teacher grade, which has a current limit of pound;44,571.

Management allowances would be streamlined and offered at one of three levels, according to the size of the job involved. In addition, special needs teachers would be entitled to bonuses. London weighting would remain. The submission is an attempt to influence the future of a pay system that many heads feel is becoming divisive.

But it is at odds with the Government's pay strategy in the face of shortages. Education Secretary Estelle Morris is to advise the review body to expand the bonus system, through overtime payments for teachers, more "flexibility" over heads' salaries and more local bonuses for staff.

The two heads' unions are to make their own joint submission to the review body next week. Classroom unions were meeting to finalise their document as The TES went to press.

A senior union official said: "The Government is inclined to find sticking-plaster answers to this problem. This is a good opportunity to find a proper one."

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