Match pay and duties

24th November 2006 at 00:00
We are now in the middle of the biggest industrial action in schools for 20 years. Since the Government introduced teaching and learning responsibility payments (TLRs) a year ago, teachers in more than 100 hundred schools have gone on strike. National teachers' strikes may not happen any more, but these local disputes rumble on. This week, we report that teachers in Cornwall and other pockets of the country are threatening to join in (pages 12-13).

It is difficult to argue with the principles underlying the new payments.

The aim was to shift pound;1 billion of public money from largely administrative tasks (mostly now outlawed by the workforce agreement) to supporting pupils' learning. Teachers are to be rewarded for raising standards rather than keeping the stock cupboard tidy.

But the loss of management allowances - sometimes amounting to thousands of pounds - was always going to be hard to manage. Most schools have done a fantastic job in pulling off changes that many managers in the private sector would have found daunting. Where headteachers have mishandled the reform, those who have lost out and who face a salary cut in three years'

time are naturally indignant.

Our survey this week shows that teachers in primaries and small schools have not had their fair share of the TLR cake. For some, the workload remains after the allowances have been taken away. No teacher should be expected to take a pay cut without a reduction in responsibilities.

Our study also shows that fewer teachers will have responsibility payments than had management allowances, although fears that those with pastoral duties will be penalised have not been realised.

Headteachers were supposed to use at least some of the money saved on the new payments to help more teachers on to the higher rungs of the pay scale.

The point, once again, was that teachers would be paid more for teaching rather than for administrative duties. We do not yet know whether that will happen. It must. The purpose of TLRs is to raise standards in schools, and not to make massive cuts in the teachers' salary bill.

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