Clarke freezes teachers' pay

17th January 2003 at 00:00
Inflation-only rises till 2006 as money goes into cutting workload

TEACHERS face inflation-only pay rises for the next three years as the Government channels resources into cutting their workload.

For the first time in 30 years, staff look set to get a multi-year deal. And Education Secretary Charles Clarke has told the School Teachers' Review Body, which makes pay recommendations, that inflation-only rises are "essential".

Such rises, which are likely to be pegged at 2.5 per cent, effectively freeze pay in real terms.

Teachers could end up with smaller increases than support staff, who will take a bigger role in the drive to cut workload. They should get 4 per cent this year.

The Government's proposals to reduce workload, outlined in this week's agreement with eight unions, will be threatened if teachers' pay rises by much more than inflation.

Heads say many schools will struggle to afford measures needed to cut workload even if teachers get only modest rises. The National Association of Head Teachers, in an advert in The TES today, says it will pull out of workload talks if funding is insufficient.

The National Union of Teachers has refused to sign the agreement. It warned of a return to "Victorian times" if a suggestion that one teacher could take two classes at a time went ahead.

The sticking point for the NUT is the plan to let support staff take lessons. It is launching a campaign, urging teachers and parents to tell heads not to let them do so.

There is already evidence that "cover superviser" assistants are being seen as a cheap alternative to teachers. A leaflet issued by Rochdale education authority tells schools that they "can employ four cover supervisors for the cost of one supply teacher".

The Government said it would put pound;1 billion into cutting workload. It said the money would come entirely from an increase in direct-grant funding from Whitehall.

But this week, the Department for Education and Skills admitted schools would receive just pound;215 million a year extra directly. The rest would have to come out of their core budgets.

The STRB is due to make its recommendations later this month. In a letter to its chairman Bill Cockburn, Mr Clarke said: "Workforce reform is key to retention of teachers in our schools.

"Progress in this area will be limited if schools are required to direct inappropriately high levels of funding to teachers' pay. That is why it is essential that we keep the general pay uplift to inflation levels."

The workload agreement shows the Government estimates pay will go up by 2.5 per cent annually, in line with inflation. The same papers estimate support staff pay will rise around 4 per cent this year, as employers introduce a five-tier pay structure allowing senior assistants to progress to pound;25,000-plus salaries.

Mr Clarke offers no prospect of big rises in living allowances in London and the South-east, despite strikes on this issue last year. But the teachers' employers are attempting to head off further action by suggesting London-wide "golden handcuffs" for teachers who stay five years in the capital.

Meanwhile, teachers in Scotland will get a 4 per cent increase in their salaries from August.

Workload deal, 6-7

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