From September next year, teachers on point nine or above of the pay scale can apply for the new threshold status: the chance to be considered for a higher pay scale. If successful, they will get an initial 10 per cent rise and could progress in subsequent years up to pound;35,000. Only staff who make this grade will be considered for senior posts.
But the dilemma the Government is puzzling over is how to distribute extra money for such posts. Up to 250,000 teachers would be eligible to apply. If they were all successful, it would cost pound;0.5 billion - half the total available to fund the Green Paper proposals.
The technical document on the Green Paper on teachers' pay published last week proposes two methods of making the threshold payments: the first would mean local authorities paying out the money term by term after checking with schools how many staff had qualified for the awards.
The second option is administratively simpler: the money - in proportion to the numbers of staff on point nine and above - would go straight to the schools, but the mechanism would not be as accurate as the first system during the first year, when it is expected there will be most applicants. The extra money would not be earmarked but school budgets would be adjusted under Fair Funding the next year. The choice between the two methods of distributing the money will be made at the end of the Green Paper consultation period (March 31).
Not all teachers will want to cross the threshold - they will be assessed on classroom performance, good discipline, pupils' results, subject knowledge and their ability to use technology in the classroom.
But those who do want to apply must register their intention to do so by Easter 2000 so that the assessment - by the head and an external validator - can be completed by Easter 2001. Any increases would be backdated to September 1, 2000.