Heads keep the peace on pay

17th February 2006 at 00:00
A TES survey finds most secondary schools have avoided radical reform in the shake-up of senior staff salaries. Jon Slater reports

Changes to senior staff pay have sparked industrial action on a scale not seen since the early 1990s, according to the largest teaching union.

But while National Union of Teachers members across England continue to threaten action in protest at salary cuts of up to pound;10,500, the dispute has been largely ignored by the national media.

In part that is because strikes have taken place on a school-by-school basis, lacking the dramatic impact of tens of thousands of children being kept at home on the same day.

More important, however, is the division within the profession. In many ways, the dispute is less teachers versus ministers and more union versus unions.

The NUT has held one-day strikes at 14 schools where its members' pay was at risk. By contrast there has been little complaint from the NASUWT - only a solitary day's walk-out at a single school which it accused of failing to follow the proper procedures - although there were signs this week that it was stepping up activity in defence of its members (see union story, below). The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has, so far, held no action at all.

The TES survey of secondary schools, published today, provides the first independent assessment of the impact of teaching and learning responsibility payments in schools. It casts doubts on claims of both the supporters and opponents of TLRs and suggests many heads have attempted to keep the peace among staff rather than pursue radical workforce reform.

In particular, hopes and fears that schools would use the requirement to review their staffing structure to cut costs have been confounded, while doubts have been cast on claims of an end to teachers' pastoral role.

The NUT warned that schools would remove allowances from teachers who take on pastoral responsibilities, damaging the support offered to pupils and removing from teachers one of the parts of the job which attracted many in the first place.

But more than 60 per cent of the 58 schools to respond to the survey said there would be no increase in the number of pastoral posts filled by support staff rather than qualified teachers.

In most schools heads of year and special educational needs co-ordinators will continue to be qualified teachers.

Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, said: "While the NUT were on the sidelines prophesying doom and gloom, we were working hard in social partnership to protect teachers' pastoral role."

The replacement of management allowances with TLRs was part of a pay deal struck between the Government and its social partners on the reward and incentives group (RIG), including the NASUWT, the ATL and the Association of School and College Leaders.

By removing payments for administrative and other non-teaching tasks, such as looking after the minibus or organising exams, the introduction of TLRs was supposed to save money which schools could then use to fund higher salaries for post-threshold teachers. In effect, TLRs were the quid pro quo demanded by the Government when it agreed to allow the "substantial majority" of eligible teachers to move to UPS3, the top point on the upper pay scale.

And the prospect of thousands more teachers reaching UPS3 was the carrot which persuaded the NASUWT and ATL to sign up to a deal which will cost some members thousands of pounds from their salary. In some cases this will have a knock-on effect on pension.

According to those close to the negotiations, the NASUWT was prepared to go further, setting a minimum rate for TLRs at pound;6,500 - a move which would have left heads with the choice of giving 116,000 teachers big pay increases or abolishing their management posts. Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, has refused to confirm or deny the deal, which was blocked by other unions who feared it would wipe out management payments in primaries.

Results of the survey, which was sent to a representative sample of 200 secondary schools in England, suggest the majority of heads have been anxious to avoid classroom unrest.

Most schools will see a small reduction in the number of teachers who get TLRs compared to the number receiving management allowances, but heads have shied away from radical change.

And increases in the numbers of support staff and other changes, (including the creation of excellent teacher and additional advanced teacher posts) mean 88 per cent of schools will spend more on staff even after the three-year safeguarding period for management allowances is over.

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New staffing structures

All schools in England were required to draw up new staffing structures by the end of December 2005.

Heads had to decide which teachers will receive new teaching and learning responsibility payment which replaces the current system of management allowances.

To qualify for the new payments, a teacher's duties must significantly exceed those of normal classroom teachers and:

* be focused on teaching and learning;

* require the exercise of a teacher's professional skills and judgment;

* require the teacher to lead, manage and develop a subject or curriculum area; or to lead and manage pupil development across the curriculum;

* have an impact on the educational progress of pupils other than the teacher's assigned classes or groups of pupils; and

* involve leading, developing and enhancing the teaching practice of other staff.

To qualify for a TLR1, the teacher must also have line management responsibility for a significant number of people.

Existing management allowances which were awarded by December 2004 will be safeguarded for three years.

Figures published by the School Teachers' Review Body show that in September last year, 172,000 full-time equivalent teachers had management allowances. That is 37.5 per cent of primary and 62 per cent of secondary teachers.

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