Candidate limits mock merit pay

21st November 2003 at 00:00
The upper pay scale was originally portrayed as having a dual purpose. First, to stop the haemorrhaging of staff from the profession and second, to offer an alternative pay structure for experienced staff who wished to continue their career while remaining classroom-based.

The former was a particular issue when staff, with up to eight years'

experience, reached the point on their pay scale where automatic progression ceased. Previously, further recognition and appropriate remuneration involved management positions outside the classroom. At a time when schools in many areas of the country are reliant on inexperienced agency and supply staff to maintain full staffing levels, upper pay spine teachers bring valuable experience to the classroom and staff room.

All teachers at the upper pay level have passed through the threshold application process which has nationally agreed criteria and is externally moderated. No criteria have been agreed for further progression on the upper pay spine. If the decision is to cash-limit the number of staff progressing, then a rigorous and detailed criteria necessary for the successful progression needs to be known when staff performance targets are set. Regrettably, it is now too late for staff due to progress to level 3 in September 2004.

The Secretary of State is looking for a minority of "excellent" candidates to progress to levels 3 of the pay spine. What will his expectations be for further progression to points 4 and 5 of the scale? The likelihood is that eligible staff will be those whose contribution is already acknowledged through the management points system. Conversely those staff without senior management responsibilities unable to demonstrate such levels of "excellence" will be discriminated against. Just the scenario the introduction of the upper pay spine was intended to avoid.

Peter Lawrence

National Primary School Association

Head, Oak Farm junior school

Hillingdon, Middlesex

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