Ministers postpone powers over pay

22nd September 2006 at 01:00
Pay and conditions: Managers' control over teachers' pay put back

* Union rebuffed over PPA time

Plans to give departmental heads and other line managers greater control over teachers' pay have been postponed for a second time because ministers fear many are not up to the job.

Changes aimed at strengthening the link between teachers' pay and performance will now be introduced next autumn, a year later than originally planned.

Under the new arrangements line managers will have formal responsibility for recommending whether teachers should progress up pay scales.

Line managers can include experienced colleagues as well as heads and deputy heads of department and members of a school's leadership team.

Jim Knight, schools minister, said the delay would allow training for staff who will implement the changes.

He said: "Schools and local authorities are telling us they would like more time to prepare. It is important we get this right and that the system we have in place is understood and fair for all."

Ministers are anxious to avoid a repeat of industrial action over the introduction of teaching and learning responsibility payments (TLRs) for senior staff. Teachers at more than 30 schools went on strike over the changes which critics say were implemented too quickly.

The National Union of Teachers has criticised the latest changes, saying that they threaten to undermine the collegiate atmosphere in schools and put line managers in an invidious position.

It promised to take action where it believed members had been treated unfairly as a result.

The new system was originally scheduled to be introduced this term but was delayed until January after a threat of legal action from the NUT.

The union was angry that it was excluded from initial discussions about the changes. These were restricted to the Government's social partners who include employers, the NASUWT, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the Association of School and College Leaders.

Steve Sinnott, NUT general secretary, said: "This is a real victory for common sense. It demonstrates the mistakes that are made when the Government does not consult critical organisations such as the NUT and National Association of Head Teachers."

John Dunford, ASCL general secretary, also welcomed the delay. He said:

"The new performance management system is a vast improvement on the old one. This will allow schools time to introduce it properly."

New performance management plans for teachers must now be completed by October 31 next year and plans for heads by December 31 2007.

Final regulations setting out how the new system will operate will be published later this term.

Nigel Middleton, director of the Head Support consultancy, has warned the new performance management system will lead to fewer teachers gaining pay rises, particularly on the upper pay scale.

He said Ofsted would expect heads to show only the best teachers are winning the highest salaries.

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