Welsh effect to delay rise further

21st July 2000 at 01:00
DETERMINATION to drive through performance pay in Wales looks set to delay teachers' pound;2,000 pay rise in England still further following the Government's High Court defeat.

Ministers this week began the slow process of referring the standards required by teachers to pass the threshold to the School Teachers' Review Body after Mr Justice Jackson ruled that David Blunkett had acted illegally and evaded scrutiny in introducing them.

As The TES went to press an appeal against the court's decision looked unlikely.

It is now thought that most teachers will get their take-home pay rise of just over pound;100 a month by March 2001 at best or June at worst.

Most had expected to be paid by December, but larger schools were always unlikely to see the cash until the spring. Several hundred teachers in 160 "vanguard" schools have already passed the threshold and would have been paid this September.

The standards will go to the review body under the 1991 Education Act. But following the judgment, ministers could use the 1986 Education Act, which set up the appraisal system and, with its simpler consultation process, would prove quicker.

That route, however, would leave performance-pay in Wales up to the Welsh Assembly - which does not have a Labour majority and has alrady voted against linking pay to results. The 1991 Act covers both countries.

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Employment said: "Referral to the review body is the best way of getting the payments back on stream."

Determination to drive through the policy despite warnings from unions that they were acting without statutory authority has been at the root of ministers' problems.

Civil servants worked over the weekend to begin to sort out the mess after last Friday's decision. But despite getting the blame from Mr Blunkett, heads have not rolled.

The review body is only beginning to take soundings on how long its review of the standards should take. It will offer the DFEE a timetable next week.

Most unions are unlikely to oppose the standards as so many teachers have applied. But the NUT, strongly opposed to performance pay, is likely to demand a full consultation.

Relations between the union and ministers became increasingly nasty over the week with trading of insults and accusations, from both sides, of lying.

Some 2,500 external assessors, due to go into schools from September, are also in limbo - they are unlikely to begin until November. Their position is under consideration by the DFEE.

Teachers' reactions, 4

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