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Thousands take pay cut

.. but some senior staff reap benefits of new responsibility payments

Thousands of senior teachers are losing the extra payments they received for taking on management responsibilities, a TES survey indicates. But thousands more, who do qualify for the new teaching and learning payments, will do better than ever before.

The survey provides a snapshot assessment of the new TLR regime which replaced management allowances this year.

Figures from 10 local authorities encompassing more than 1,300 schools show the average teaching and learning responsibility payment for secondary teachers is pound;5,200. The average payment for primary teachers is pound;3,000.

The survey coincides with the fresh threat of industrial action in primary schools in Cornwall and other parts of the country over responsibility payment allocation in small schools.

Chris Keates, general secretary of teachers' union NASUWT, said councils and heads were imposing arbitrary thresholds, denying payments to teachers in schools with fewer than seven or eight staff.

The union was meeting members in Cornwall to test the water for a ballot on industrial action, she said. Cornwall council denied there were any industrial relations problems in its area.

Though divided on the new system, the NASUWT and the National Union of Teachers agreed many primary teachers were not getting what they were entitled to.

But Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said responsibility payments were beginning to reward primary teachers for their work.

"It isn't a triumph," she said. "but it is redressing some of the balance."

The new regime has appeared to bed in relatively easily: only 132 schools voted for industrial action over the issue this year.

Some headteachers welcomed the chance to restructure radically; others preferred to avoid a fight by easing the change in gently. With the next reform, performance-related pay, taking effect in September 2007, heads and councils hope to have resolved battles over responsibility payments.

Kerry George, pay and conditions manager for the National Association of Head Teachers, said The TES survey showed that many heads had been working smartly with the new payments, to restructure their schools. But while many younger heads were ready to make changes, older heads were often unwilling to pick a fight with staff.

"Nobody went into this exercise with the intention of wilfully cutting teachers' pay," she said.

But Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the NUT, said less money was going into teachers' pockets. "We knew some schools would use it to make cuts,"

he said. "The survey appears to back our fears." The most committed staff had lost out, he said. But the Department for Education and Skills said the new regime enabled heads to structure schools as they saw fit.

Full reports, pages 12 and 13 Leading article, page 26

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