Two-way stretch upsets the unions

14th February 1997 at 00:00
TES reporters begin a five-page analysis of the Teachers' Review Body recommendations

For the second year running the Government has decided to phase the teachers' pay award in England and Wales. The review body's recommended 3.3 per cent will be in two parts: 2 per cent payable from April and 1.3 per cent from December. This will become the benchmark for the Scottish union negotiators when they table their claim at the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee on March 5.

The staging of the award will add 2.4 per cent to the pay bill in England and Wales, and cash-strapped Scottish authorities will be keen to keep the cost to that level. An equivalent settlement in Scotland would cost Pounds 32 million on top of the existing Pounds 1.3 billion bill.

Translated into Scotland, the English award would mean an honours graduate entering the profession on Pounds 14,223 would receive Pounds 14,507 in April and Pounds 14,692 in December, just over Pounds 200 more than a similarly qualified English teacher. The top of the common scale for unpromoted staff, Pounds 20,796 at present, would rise to Pounds 21,482 by the end of the year.

A primary school head with 151 to 300 pupils would see their salary rise from Pounds 29,451 to Pounds 30,423 in December. The head of a secondary with 801 to 1,050 pupils would earn Pounds 44,120 by the end of the year compared with Pounds 42,711 now.

While the authorities south of the border are relieved, many say they will still have difficulty finding the money, given the Government's capping limits. Scottish councils face similar restraints and their opening offer of 2 per cent this week to administrative, professional and manual staff reflected that. The unions rejected the offer.

The review body has been criticised in England for not standing up for teachers. Chris Trinder, chief economist of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, said: "Teachers are slipping down the pay league. It is not clear they are getting more money than they would under negotiation. "

The Scottish Secretary is committed to abandoning pay bargaining in Scotland through the SJNC and establishing a similar pay body. In practice, pay body awards in England and negotiated settlements in Scotland have barely differed over the past five years although English teachers did get more in the two most recent rounds.

Reaction in England has been generally hostile. Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, says the review body has sidestepped some of the most vital issues and has not met concerns about class sizes.

Even supporters have harsh words. David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "The review body knows 3.3 per cent is not enough to recruit, retain and motivate staff, but it came up with a figure that would just about keep it out of trouble and would not be overturned by the Government.

This is the sixth report from the School Teachers' Review Body and the first under Tony Vineall as chairman. The STRB has made few structural changes this year. It has decided to stick with the present pay spines. The unions, in their evidence to Mr Vineall, said they were unhappy with the change last year that introduced half-points to the classroom teachers' pay spine.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said a half-point rise amounted to 10p extra a lesson.

The review body has looked at funding, and warns: "It is difficult to envisage how significant further savings can be generated in schools through efficiency gains or productivity improvements." It notes that schools are improving productivity in terms of producing better examination results - this, however, does not generate money.

The review body has for several years complained about the "funding fog" in which the public expenditure allocated to councils by the Government is passed down to school budgets. Mr Vineall is concerned because the present system creates differentials between different areas, so that schools of a similar size can get totally different levels of funding.

The report says the review body is persuaded that a national funding formula could be the answer; local authorities point out they put in more than the Government recommends for education. But with only 20 per cent of funding generated locally, the review body believes a national funding formula would be simpler and fairer.

A workload survey shows that teachers are working longer hours. Classroom teachers in primary schools last year were working two hours a week longer than in 1994. Secondary teachers were working more than an hour more a week.

The report says staffing has not increased in line with pupil numbers and notes concern about larger class sizes.

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