George Law explains the new performance - related pay increases Many primary teachers could be in line for one of the biggest pay bonanzas since the Houghton report of 25 years ago, under plans outlined earlier this month by David Blunkett, the Education Secretary.
But in return they will have to accept that their performance will be assessed against national criteria, including the number of pupils who pass national tests.
Teachers will have about two months to make up their minds whether to apply to go through the threshold - which could give them 12 per cent pay rises backdated to September 1.
Mr Blunkett, who has accepted the national pay review body recommendation for a national pay rise of 3.3 per cent for all teachers, has also promised that as many classroom teachers as possible should be able to apply for promotion, giving them an immediate pound;2000 pay rise, and putting them onto an upper scale, starting at pound;26,000 a year.
This could lead to a top point of pound;30,000 a year- or up to pound;37,000 a year with awards for taking on managerial duties.
Eric Spear, headteacher of Staplehurst County primary school, in Kent, and NAHT executive member, said in theory this represented a significant enhancement of a primary teachers' financial and career prospects.
"In the past all the big increases have favoured the secondary schoolteachers. Teachers have had to take on extra duties to gain extra points or allowances. Now they will be able to go on to an advanced scale just by being good teachers."
He understood the concern of some teacher unions, because in the past primary schools had not been able to give promotions because of their tight budgets.
"But this time the extra money, ore than pound;1billion of it, is guaranteed by the Secretary of State - so teachers cannot lose for the first two years at least.
"This is not so much payment by results as performance-related promotion," Mr Spear said.
Graham Lane, education committee chair of the Local Government Association, warned that the cost of promoted posts could lead to larger classes and fewer jobs. "Most LEAs have only put aside 3 per cent for this year's pay rises and will have to find the extra pound;110million from council tax increases.
"Unless the Government meets the shortfall there will be less room to employ teachers and class sizes will rise and the gains in standards may drop."
Barry Fawcett, senior salaries official at the NUT, accepted that the new pay structure would redress the balance between primary and secondary teachers' career prospects.
Both he and Mr Spear agreed that the proof of the new pay structure would be the assessment process.
Heads must decide on all applications from teachers by the end of the summer term. Their decisions will be vetted by a team of external assessors.
To pass the assessment teachers will have to demonstrate competence in five areas: lKnowledge and understanding of their subject and the curriculum.lTeaching and assessment, including lesson plans, effective teaching strategies and pupil feedback.lPupil progress, including progress of individuals and groups against national benchmarks.lWider professional effectiveness, including personal professional development and contribution to the school. lProfessional skills such as team building, inspiring trust and confidence, engaging and motivating pupils, analytical thinking, and commitment to improvement.