Matthew first to make pound;1,000 London grade

26th January 2007 at 00:00
Matthew Read is the first person to gain a new status designed to bring prestige to London's hard-pressed teachers. Now thousands prepare to follow his example.

"I am shocked," said Mr Read when informed of his place as the first chartered London teacher in history. "I thought it was something that lots and lots of people would have gone for."

They did - nearly two-thirds of the capital's 60,000 teachers have been registered for the status, designed to recognise and reward their particular skills with a one-off pound;1,000 payment.

But the scheme, also supposed to encourage collaboration between its participants, got off to a slow start in September 2004, with only 600 registering during its first six months.

Achieving the status can take as long as five years, although teachers on the upper pay scale can get there in two.

So, for the time being, Mr Read, deputy head at Latchmere junior in Kingston upon Thames, will remain among a select band of elite London teachers - 31 at the last count.

For him, the pound;1,000 is less important than the status it will bring.

"It is taxable, so by the time I see it, it will be barely half that," said the 35-year-old. "I think the nicest thing is that the status will make people outside the capital sit up and take notice.

"I have been teaching in London for 12 years and it feels like you are teaching in a pressure cooker sometimes. I have friends and family teaching all over the country and this is certainly more intense."

He had to show he had met 12 standards in areas including pedagogy, subject knowledge, and knowledge of London's diverse communities. He said the scheme did not involve much extra work as it could be completed through existing performance management procedures.

Schools have registered 38,699 teachers for the scheme, which its organisers hope will translate into 18,000 chartered London teachers by 2008.

But the high registration numbers may be inflated because schools receive the pound;1,000 for each applicant directly into their budgets. The money is not ring-fenced and does not need to be paid back if teachers do not qualify.

Unlike the advanced skills teacher and excellent teacher schemes, which provide staff who qualify with higher salaries in return for extra duties, chartered London teacher status does not increase regular pay levels.

EXTRA DUTIES

There are 435,600 full-time equivalent teachers in England.

4,000 are advanced skills teachers 31 are Chartered London Teachers, with another 38,699 registered for the scheme.

Figures for the excellent teacher scheme, which began in September 2006, will not be available until April.

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