Confusion still reigns in primaries

22nd October 2004 at 01:00
Primary heads are unlikely to face quite the same difficulties over staff pay as their secondary counterparts.

They are being expected to find only around a sixth of the money needed for their teachers to progress to level three of the upper pay scale (UPS3), compared with more than half in secondaries.

The difference exists because far fewer primary staff receive management allowances, a fact which may also make it easier for their heads to replace the system with teaching and learning responsibility payments.

They also tend to be smaller allowances, which makes pay cuts less likely.

But many heads appear to be unclear as to exactly what the changes will mean.

John Peoples, head of St Joseph's Roman Catholic primary in Stanford-le-hope, Essex, said he has been told by his local authority that 85 per cent of the costs are being funded by the Government. But he had no idea that he was expected to contribute any management allowance savings towards it. And with a pound;22,000 budget deficit this year, he said he had none to give. He thinks the "excellent teacher" scheme is a good idea in theory, but believes that most primaries will be unable to afford the pound;35,000 posts.

And Mr Peoples is sceptical about the Government's plan to assist financially with the scheme through schools' baseline budgets.

"The likelihood is it will be rolled out in some kind of percentage increase which they will be asking us to do umpteen other things with," he said.

Mr Peoples was unaware of the new teaching and learning responsibility payment system proposed this month.

"There is an awful lot of confusion around," he said. "I think there is a lack of communication to schools about what exactly is going on.

"It is happening away from us but we are the ones being left to pick up the pieces."

Nigel Middleton, from Head Support, a school pay and performance consultancy, said one head told him she had been given five different answers to the same question by LEAofficials.

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