Britain's largest teaching union is set to persuade its members that performance-related salaries are not a good idea. Frances Rafferty reports
THE NATIONAL Union of Teachers is urging its 192,000 members to reject the Government's Green Paper, which proposes payment by results.
While other unions have given measured reactions, the NUT, Britain's largest teachers' union has hardened its resolve to oppose ministers' plans.
Doug McAvoy, general secretary, said: "We will do everything we can do to alert teachers to the flaws, exaggerations and spin the Government has attached to its plans.
"In our own survey last September we found 30 per cent of teachers were very relaxed about performance-related pay - that means 70 per cent are against. It's my role to move the 30 per cent away from their support of PRP."
The NUT is against individual payment by results, believing it will cause staffroom division.
It also says the Government's promised pound;1 billion to fund the changes will fall dramatically short of rewarding deserving teachers. The Green Paper proposes a higher pay scale for classroom teachers after an assessment by their headteacher and external auditors.
Already 260,000 teachers could apply to cross the threshold, but even if only 60 per cent were successful this would cost the Government pound;1.38 billion, taking into account its other commitments, including 22,000 classroom assistants and 5,000 advanced skill teachers.
Mr McAvoy said the number of teachers who will receive extra payment for performance will be rationed to the amount of money available.
Further technical details on the Green Paper are expected next week.
* Tony Blair was urged to back his warm words for teachers and nurses with cash this week, following his speech to winners of the Government's Charter Marks for excellence in public services.
The Prime Minister praised those who work in the public sector for their awesome dedication and acknowledged they could earn more if they worked for private companies. But he also warned them that any pay rises would have to be met with efficiency improvements.
He said: "It is not just a job for many of you, it is a vocation. . . Helping a five-year-old to read, coaxing a patient out of a coma, convicting a burglar, is fulfilling in a way that money cannot buy."
The Cabinet is assessing the recommendations from the public-sector pay review bodies and the Government is expected to announce an above-inflation award for teachers of between 3 and 4 per cent. Local government leaders said councils have only budgeted for a 3 per cent increase.
Doug McAvoy was not impressed with the Prime Minister's speech: "Teachers don't have Mr Blair's advantages. They don't live over the shop, they don't have a country cottage, they don't have their car maintained for them."
The Prime Minister warned that he would not tolerate failure in the public sector, saying that where services failed he would call in others, including private companies, to take over. He hinted that institutions which proved themselves efficient would win autonomy from Whitehall.
Charter Mark schools, 13