Allowances to be scrapped but Wales may escape staff reviews. William Stewart and Karen Thornton report
A shake-up of the teachers' pay system will result in salary cuts for thousands of senior staff but will allow some "excellent" classroom teachers to earn pound;35,000.
The School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) has backed proposals by government, employers and most teacher unions to scrap management allowances and replace them with teaching and learning responsibility (TLR) payments which have tighter criteria and a new two-tier pay range.
It has also created an "excellent teacher" scheme, a "gold standard" for classroom teachers at the "pinnacle" of their job.
Becoming an excellent teacher would mean a salary increase of pound;2,372 (for teachers outside London) but disqualify them from the new teaching and learning responsibility payments.
Advanced skills teachers can earn up to pound;49,872 for staying in the classroom and spreading good practice to other schools.
Management allowances worth between pound;1,680 and pound;10,836, paid to 192,000 teachers in Wales and England, will be scrapped by the end of 2008.
Movement to the new scales, worth an extra pound;2,250 to pound;11,000, will not be automatic but staff who lose out will have their salaries safeguarded for three years. Teacher associations and education authorities estimate that thousands on current allowances face pay cuts.
Schools should be issued with guidance and required to undertake a review of their staffing structures in order to introduce the new TLR payments, says the review body. But it is unclear whether a staff review will be required in Welsh schools as this is a decision for the Assembly.
A Welsh government spokesperson said: "A requirement for schools to review their staffing structures is a matter for the Assembly, because the legal basis for introducing this is different from pay matters and is a devolved power. We will announce any proposals in due course."
She added that the STRB's recommendations are not final and are out for consultation until March 18. Unions are concerned there could be delays in Wales in issuing guidance.
Geraint Davies, secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers Cymru, said: "I hope the Assembly will ensure the changes are implemented at the same time as in England. It would be unfair to teachers in Wales to be lagging behind colleagues in England."
Anna Brychan, director of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) Cymru, said it was unclear if, and when, Welsh schools would need to undertake a staff review, and when guidance would be available.
The review body said it accepted that some schools might be pressed financially to move to the new system. The NAHT has said small schools should be given more money to make the reforms work.
The review body also agreed that levels 4 and 5 of the upper pay scale will be replaced with an excellent teachers scheme, expected to benefit a fifth of those on level 3 of the upper pay scale. These teachers will be expected to act as mentors for their colleagues.
The Assembly government told the STRB that creating excellent teacher posts in Wales would be a matter for schools and local education authorities.
Any assessments would be in the remit of the Department for Education and Skills. Teachers' overall pay, as agreed in a 2003 settlement, will mean a staged 3.25 per cent pay rise is in place by September.
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