9th December 2005 at 00:00
TLR, pay cuts, indigestion. Bill Hicks is feeling the Christmas spirit

The three letters most likely to spark heated discussion anywhere in the TES Staffroom at the moment are t, l and r.

Since the idea of teaching and learning responsibility points to replace the management allowances on the teachers' pay scale was proposed over a year ago, forum users have been arguing the toss over what they will mean.

And, as the deadline of December 31 draws closer, so the discussions have become more urgent and anguished, as theoretical calculations translate into visions of real and painful cuts in teachers' pay packets - in some cases of several thousand pounds per year.

Not that the writing wasn't on the wall of the Pay and Employment forum, way back. Look at this statement, and guess when it was made: "(TLRs) would cost thousands of teachers' money, especially pastoral heads and primary heads of department. The proposal aims to save pound;25m, equivalent to 15,000 teachers on Management 1 losing their allowance."

Answer: October 2004. It was quickly challenged by another poster: "These proposals are really the lesser of several evils. Before you go off the deep end, wait until the STRB has had its say."

We all know what happened next, and now a year has passed, TLR has entered the teachers' hall of infamy. In a recent thread inviting nominations for a teachers' version of Room 101, gribeaux offered "TLRs, indigestion and the end of the weekend" - although I have to admit this was only after cover supervisors, Ruth Kelly, and "people who don't pick up their own dog's sh*t" had already had their dishonourable mentions.

The reality of implementing TLRs is also well documented, and the emerging picture is full of local discrepancies. One poster last week reported that their school would be "binning deputy heads of year because of all this TLR nonsense", then asked if any other schools had managed to keep DHoYs.

The news from sunblest wasn't encouraging: "We've lost HoYs and DHoYs. It's a complete stitch-up."

Friendlyface had a slightly different version: "Our school is keeping HoYs, but they don't get paid a huge amount." Ictrules passed on some wisdom from a consultant: "Effectively you cannot maintain your pastoral (teaching) staff with TLRs since they do not fit the criteria."

The next issue - what, if anything, teachers can do about TLR - was broached as well: existentialtyke felt that the Government was embarking on "mass breach of contract" and wondered, "where is the judicial review of the process? Why have the NUT not started to press for it?"

To further deepen the gloom at this festive time, I will end with a comment from powderpuff, who included this morsel of pessimism in a list of the 10 things she most hated about teaching: "That teachers haven't complained about the privatisation of education. Because you really know what the TLR is about don't you? It's to slim down the pay cheques and the staffing structure. Private companies want to make money not pay teachers. DUH!!!!"

Happy C-word, everyone.

Bill Hicks is editor of the TES website. www.tes.co.ukstaffroom

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