'Super-lecturer s' push up pass rates

17th November 2000 at 00:00
Learning directors scheme could have major implications in pay talks, reports Steve Hook.

RESULTS have been transformed at the first college in the country to introduce super-lecturers - a development that could have huge implications for lecturers' pay.

Student achievement in several subjects at Derby Tertiary College, Wilmorton, has shown dramatic improvements since the college began appointing highly-paid "learning directors" last year.

Pass rates have nearly doubled in targeted areas and average A-level points scores have gone up from 11.2 to 14.3.

The college now has 28 learning directors, who work longer hours and share expertise with their teaching colleagues - and are paid significantly more.

The programme will cost pound;100,000 over three years as salaries are upgraded for lecturers who move up the learning director scale, which starts at pound;24,450. They can earn as much as pound;29,252 on the six-point scale for performance-related increments.

The money has been shaved off other areas of spending at the college but, with more than 100 staff qualified to apply for the new status, outside funding will be needed if the scheme is to continue.

Progression up the pay scale is based on results, personal development including information technology skills, and the extent to which they have "mentored" their colleagues.

Some of the most dramatic improvements are in aths, a subject in which there is a national shortage of teachers.

The college targeted the subject at level 2 and level 3, both of which had pass rates at Wilmorton of 40 per cent for 199798. The college has increased this to 65 per cent at level 2, against the national benchmark of 33 per cent. At level 3, the figure is 75 per cent compared with the benchmark of 64 per cent.

Talks are continuing over lecturers' pay and specifically over the pound;50 million to be shared out. A formula is expected to be announced within the next few weeks - although unions for ancillary and technical staff continue to argue for a slice of the money in recognition of their members' contribution to teaching in colleges.

All parties to the talks insist that performance-related pay has not been on the agenda. But the successful experiment at Wilmorton could persuade ministers that the super-lecturer model is the "something for something" David Blunkett said government was looking for when he announced the extra money.

Di McEvoy-Robinson, Wilmorton's deputy principal, said the improvements were directly attributable to the introduction of super-lecturers.

"We need a system nationally which rewards quality rather than paying according to the lowest common denominator. A national pay scale is a good thing but there has to be the flexibility to make sure people are rewarded," she added.

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