Union sees red over 'flawed' Green Paper;NUT Conference

2nd April 1999 at 01:00
David Blunkett faces a rough ride over performance pay at the NUT's conference in Brighton, reports Nicolas Barnard

Insulting, badly researched and "seriously flawed" is the National Union of Teachers' verdict on the Green Paper.

The union's response to the Government's consultation, delivered to ministers this week, claims it will exacerbate the teaching crisis.

The NUT applauds the Government's desire for long-needed radical reform. But it says the proposals are self-defeating: far from making teaching more attractive, they will put graduates off. Lower morale and a confusing pay structure with no clear promise of rewards will act as deterrents.

And it warns that new teachers could progress even more slowly up the pay ladder, rather than winning the higher salaries it promises.

With a new appraisal system - the building block for performance-related pay - covering all teachers, those below the current pay ceiling of pound;22,400 could find the annual increments they now get automatically withheld on "performance grounds" by schools trying to save money.

The union appears angriest with the Government's claims that teachers are "fatalistic" and resist change, while the assertion that many will only pass on to the new higher pay scale over time means "the Government considers existing teachers to be not good enough".

In fact, says the union, teachers constantly adapt to change and want progressive reform based on strong research evidence - unlike the Government, whose proposals have, it claims, no firm grounding.

Describing performance-related pay as "an old beast, a scourge that bedevilled teaching and learning" in the late 19th century, the union details research it commissioned which says it is impossible to draw a conclusive link between individual teachers' performance and pupils' results.

"New Labour, Old Ideas," the union concludes.

The Government has not listened to teachers and the consultations appear a sham, it says, calling for an alternative system, with no link between appraisal and pay. It is also opposed to the threshold which it labels "an Orwellian euphemism".

Under the NUT's alternative new teachers would see their pay rise to pound;26,000 within five years. They would then join a second scale which would go up to pound;35,000 as they take on wider responsibilities - this at a time when their pay currently falls dramatically behind other professions.

A scale for senior teachers would go up to pound;45,000 with one for heads and deputies reaching pound;70,000.

Another voice, 12 Opinion, 14

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