Wealth of detail, but no money

17th February 1995 at 00:00
Teachers deserve a 2.7 per cent rise, says their review body, it just doesn't mention who is to pay for it. Frances Rafferty opens an eight-page report on this year's pay award including analysis, comment and extracts from the recommendations.

The School Teachers' Review Body came under heavy criticism this week for ducking the crucial question of how the 2.7 per cent pay rise it has awarded will be paid.

Graham Lane, chairman of the National Employers' Organisation for School Teachers, said it was illogical to have a body which made recommendations but had no say in how they are funded. He said he would be telling Gillian Shephard, the Education Secretary, that she must fund this year's Pounds 300 million award, otherwise thousands of teachers' jobs will be lost and class sizes increase.

He said: "I will also be calling for a change in the local management formula and asking for local authority caps to be lifted as ways to ease the funding of the rise. And I will be calling on her to scrap the review body."

But Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, defended the review body saying that its job was to recommend a pay increase and the Government's job was to fund it.

Mr Lane's view is also not shared by all the local authority associations. "If we had been asked to set a pay award we would probably have said we couldn't afford one. We are not necessarily looking to take on pay negotiations, " said a member of the Association of County Councils.

The 2.7 per cent rise was described by Alan Brown, of the Secondary Heads Association, as "a nice calculation of what is the outer limit of the possible". But his union later added that the Government's decision not to fund it "may well damage the educational prospects of every child and student in the country".

The review body, however, is not convinced by the doom-and-gloom predictions. It had been told by the Government that the money would have to come from efficiency savings. It was also told by Gillian Shephard that in effect most local authorities would be able to increase expenditure by no more than 0.5 per cent compared with 1994-95. It made no comment on these seemingly incompatible positions.

The review body knew that last year's pay rise of 2.9 per cent was not met by all local authorities. The employers sent it a survey showing that fewer than half had been able to meet the cost and then largely by drawing on reserves. A TES survey last month showed that nearly half of authorities had budgeted for a 2 per cent or less pay rise this year.

The review body took into account when deciding on 2.7 per cent: pressures of recruitment and retention; the cash held in school and authority bank accounts; the changing structure of education that allows governing bodies to employ cheaper classroom assistants and part-time staff.

A review source said: "The system is not a level playing field. We are having to consider tiny rural primary schools together with large secondary schools. The financial position will vary as to whether they have balances, whether their local authority spends all its allocation on education and the sorts of staff employed.

"It is a huge system which administers a huge amount of money. But it is also a dynamic system which is able to react to changing circumstances."

The report said in the present economic climate recruitment and retention is not a problem. And the flexibility of the pay spine allowed local recruitment and retention problems to be dealt with.

And although the review body has in the past criticised the "funding fog, " this year's report does not demand a simpler system. The report also takes a laissez-faire attitude to teachers' conditions, believing it inappropriate to recommend statutory limits to class sizes or limits on contact time. It claims that primary non-contact time is up and secondary non-contact is down and adds that such matters should be decided at a local level.

"There are possible grounds for concern about the increasing pressure on school resources and the possible implications for teachers' workloads, their morale and motivation, and the quality of education they are able to provide . . . we hope that the effective managing of teachers' workloads will be treated as a priority by headteachers and governing bodies."

This attitude was criticised as disingenuous. One union official said: "The review body should not pass the buck to governing bodies. Class sizes and contact time depend upon having enough money to pay for extra staff or cover; governing bodies have little or no discretion when they have no money."

The report, the second under the chairmanship of John Gardiner, has acknowledged that there were still problems with the spines introduced last year, and said that the DFE and the heads' unions had argued for them to be lengthened. The review body is now to consult the unions and employers.

The 18-point spine (see page 6) for teachers now ranges from Pounds 11, 883 to Pounds 32,169, while the 51-point spine for heads and deputies ranges from Pounds 23,676 to Pounds 53,559. The starting salary for unqualified teachers is now Pounds 10,101.

The review body noted that almost three quarters of classroom teachers will earn between Pounds 20,000 and Pounds 26,000 from April when the increases come into effect.

Its proposal that teachers be paid for in-service training undertaken in the evening and weekend was accepted by the Government.

However the Government insisted, against the review body's advice, that staff who help with school-based initial teacher training should be rewarded.

Main points

* Across-the-board pay rise of 2.7 per cent.

* Mandatory allowances for London teachers up by 2.7 per cent.

* Payments for in-service training during evenings or weekends.

* Separate performance-related pay scheme for heads and deputies dropped. Governing bodies to be sent guidelines on performance factors to be considered when determining pay.

* Pay spines unchanged, but adjustments to be considered.

* Government insists that staff who help with school-based initial teacher training should be rewarded.

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