'Pittance' offered for lecturers' pay

27th April 2001 at 01:00
Principals fear cash for teachers' pay initiative is not enough. Steve Hook reports

LECTURERS fear colleges won't have enough cash to carry out the teachers' pay initiative aimed at raising standards.

General further education colleges have been given 1.7 per cent of their combined higher and FE funding allocations to pay for the introduction of the initiative, according to a confidential Association of Colleges circular received by The TES. Sixth-form colleges get 2 per cent.

"Colleges would be ill-advised to attempt to introduce any form of performance-related pay on the basis of this pittance," said Paul Mackney, general secretary of lecturers' union NATFHE.

"This does nothing to address the pay gap between FE colleges and schools, which is at about 7 or 10 per cent. There's nothing to force colleges to use this money for performance-related pay."

The money comes from the extra pound;65m of FE funding announced for 2001-02 to be distributed by the Learning and Skills Council. Education Secretary David Blunkett said: "Ministers have made clear that payments under this pay initiative can be consolidated into salaries.

"The sums I am prepared to make available for FE lecturers would match, pro rata, those I am making available for schoolteachers."

He said the college sector's particular requirements could be looked at in the detail of negotiations but added: "I do wish to be satisfied that the arrangements will reward high-calibre lecturers and the release of earmarked sums is dependent on that."

The package is designed to apply to part-time and full-time staff and to be "logical and transparent" to enable "fair and consistent decisins to be made", says the AoC circular, The Teaching Pay Initiative Guidance. It sets out the guidance of TPI implementation - drawn up in collaboration with the Department for Education and Employment.

For the money to be made available, local learning and skills councils will have to sign a declaration of intent to carry out TPI.

The package has been designed to cover the full costs of implementation, including employers' pension and national insurance contributions. If a teacher earning pound;20,000 gets an extra pound;1,000 under the initiative, the employers' costs increase from pound;21,500 to pound;22,600, and the college can claim pound;100 for the additional salary - pound;1,100 towards the extra salary and pound;100 towards the employment costs.

"We expect to be able to begin payment of funds in June or July 2001," said John Harwood, chief executive of the Learning and Skills Council, in a letter to principals.

Colleges have some room to interpret TPI schemes locally but they must incorporate four aspects laid down by the DFEE. Awards must take into account lecturers' professional qualifications, the extent to which they take part in self-assessment and improvement, their professional effectiveness, and their record of continuous professional development. The 105 sixth-form colleges get pound;11 million of the pound;65m. The Government will distribute pound;9m of the sixth-form college money up front, retaining a central float of pound;2m to allow for those who need extra cash when the applications come through.

"When some of the principals were told of the allocations they were worried that it might not be enough," said Sue Witham, of the Sixth Form Colleges' Employers' Forum.

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