Make or break on pay

22nd January 1999 at 00:00
'Extended' voluntary contracts would put classroom teachers on pound;35,000 a year

CLASSROOM teachers could earn more than pound;35,000 by signing new contracts and taking on extra responsibilities under radical plans to be tabled by the employers at Monday's critical talks on pay and conditions.

Teacher holidays will not be hit but staff who agree individually to an "extended contract" will work longer hours.

Employers, however, expect most teachers to sign new contracts and opt for higher pay. The authorities' offer is likely to be worth around 18 per cent over three years with more for teachers at the lower end of the scale. The basic salary for most teachers would rise to around pound;26,000.

A key aim is to retain good teachers in the classroom, allowing them to take on extra managerial or school duties in return for substantial pay hikes. The catch is a likely extra 35 hours a yearfor staff on the extended contract.

This would reshape the time allocated to parents' evenings, planned activity time and in-service training and give headteachers greater control over the working day. But staff would have a major say in how and when they worked the extra hours.

As expected, the plans would slim down the promoted post structure in secondaries, create a new responsibility structure based on school or departmental duties and shorten the pay scale. This would produce rapid rises for classroom teachers.

Scottish staff are being offered a deal not markedly different from that south of the border where staff have been offered rises of about 10 per cent if they accept revised contracts. But rigorous annual appraisal and pay linked to performance will not be a feature north of the border.

The Scottish offer is certain to be staged, including a basic buy-out of around 10 per cent, plus annual pay awards of just below 3 per cent in the next three years.

It is believed the Government will contribute additional cash to the complex package and allow councils to juggle existing targeted cash already in education budgets. Conservation of salaries for several thousand principal teachers and early retirement deals could be financed centrally.

At stake in the talks is the future of the negotiating machinery. Helen Liddell, the Education Minister, will announce on Wednesday details of her long-awaited White Paper on school reform.

Any intransigence by the Educational Institute of Scotland, the dominant force on the union side, is certain to trigger the demise of the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee.

The pressure is firmly on the EIS leadership to conclude at least an outline deal and submit it to a ballot of members next month. Authorities are already drawing up draft budgets for 1999-2000 and would need to allocate substantial extra sums for teachers' pay.

The key question remains the ability of the EIS leaders to sell to members a complex deal, trading conditions for pay, so soon after the Higher Still boycott wrangle.

Maureen Watson, a leading North Lanarkshire left-winger and member of the EIS's executive council, denounced any trade-off. "We deserve a substantial pay increase without strings. Employers are offering peanuts to do more work," she said.

Details of the offer were leaked by Tino Ferri, a leading Scottish member of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers.

The union, with around 3,000 Scottish members, wants the SJNC scrapped and backs a pay review body. It is opposing the outline deal.

School management, page 26

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