The reward you deserve

31st March 2000 at 01:00
Too many teachers have been stuck at the top of the old salary scale, says Estelle Morris, schools minister. The performance pay system will finally recognise their vital work in the classroom.

FOR YEARS teachers have said that the Government refused to reward the vital job they were doing in the classroom. From this autumn, their work will be recognised in the pay structure.

We are moving closer to the goal of modernising teachers' pay. The profession will get an above-inflation, 3.3 per cent pay rise from April. Experienced teachers who are doing a good job can move onto an upper pay range, giving them a pound;2,000 pay rise backdated to September.

The pay reforms include a new system of management allowances and will let deputies and other members of senior management move onto the pay spine for leadership.

I was surprised to learn that the National Union of Teachers plans to use legal action to stop teachers getting a pound;2,000 pay rise.

It is surely reasonable for heads of department, for example, to contribute to an assessment that will let a colleague get this pay rise? We have earmarked funding of pound;20 million to help heads run the assessments. This was announced on March 10 and could be used for supply cover or administrative support.

Reforming teachers' pay will change the pay structure, rewarding good teachers and making teaching more attractive. It will also send out the message that excellent classroom teaching is recognised and rewarded.

Too many teachers' careers have been blocked at point nine in the scale. Now a majority will, over time, have access to higher pay, more focused development and proper recognition.

In order to cross the threshold onto the upper pay scale, teachers will need to meet national standards of performance. They will go through a rounded assessment, covering the main aspects of classroom teaching: command of the subjects taught, planning and delivery of lessons; and the way teachers help pupils improve.

Applying for the performance threshold is voluntary and will be open to all teachers with the maximum nine points for experience and qualifications.

Teachers will fill in a short form summarising factual evidence to show how they meet each standard. Applications will be assessed by heads, and outside assessors will heck to see that heads in different schools are applying the same standards.

The standards and application forms were sent to schools in England last week. Training for heads is now under way. The deadline for applications is June 5.

The same standards and processes will apply in Wales, but the administration will be through local authorities and dates are still being finalised.

Assessment will be rigorous but fair. The standards are designed to apply to teachers in all types of environments, whatever subjects or phase they teach and whether they work full-time or part-time.

Teachers who are not based in one school will be asked to give evidence relating to their own circumstances.

In these cases, the assessment might be carried out by the headteacher who sees most of the applicant's work, or by a line manager at the local education authority.

Evidence for each standard should be appropriate to the work the teacher does. On pupil progress, for example, our guidance recognises that the information provided by teachers will sometimes relate to external tests or exams and sometimes to school-based assessments.

Teachers of PE or music, for example, are likely to provide assessments made within the school. These types of assessment are often cross-referenced to national curriculum levels. For teachers of special needs children, however, it may be more appropriate to describe their pupils' progress in terms of their individual education plans. Part-time teachers will describe the progress made by the classes they teach. In all cases the intention is to assess progress against prior attainment and in the context of the school.

The reform of teachers' pay has been criticised by some for undermining the collegiate culture in schools. But by doing this, critics miss the obvious point that links between performance and pay are already an accepted principle in teaching. Progress up to point nine of the current pay scale is subject to satisfactory performance, while promotion above it depends upon competition for the job.

This new system gives better rewards for teachers who are good at the core job of teaching. It will be fair and straightforward.

I hope that teachers will see the benefits - and that many will benefit themselves.

Opinion, 15

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