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We need a 25 per cent rise!

The Green Paper on teaching is expected next week. David Blunkett has promised it will mean "something for something". The professionals told Karen Thornton what they want.

Vincent O'Mara, deputy head of Rainham school for girls, a technology college in Gillingham, Kent, says: "Pay for the majority of the profession is extremely low. For many who are classroom teachers, the maximum of Pounds 23,000 is paltry.

"To attract people into the profession, there needs to be a good staffing level and incremental steps that allow for progression based on experience in the classroom and links to performance.

"Doubling the pay of a classroom teacher would not be excessive. If additional incentives or allowances are to be introduced, they must be made available for the school to determine its needs and where they are placed."

Angela Johnson, class teacher with seven years' experience at Victoria county infant school, Chester, agrees. She says: "A pay rise reflecting the job of a profession with responsibility for the next generation - a 25 per cent rise at least! And the pay scale shouldn't stop after seven or eight years' experience.

"There are a lot of teachers who would welcome set working hours, rather than having to take things home in the evening and holidays. Most teachers I know are having to do at least a week every holiday, and three or four hours after school. I would love to be able to go home one evening and not have any school work to do."

But for Natalie Burffit, an English teacher with three years' experience at Haybridge high school, Hagley, Worcestershire, pay is not the key issue.

She says: "Money is not a motivating factor for me. But I would like to be supported by the Government and society - I would like them to agree that teaching is something profoundly worthwhile.

"Most teachers believe in what they are doing - it's a privilege to have an influence on these children's lives. League tables and performance related pay undermine those aspects of the job.

"I want time during the day to prepare and mark and time to talk to my kids. Administrative support for teachers would mean more time to do the important part of the job."

Analysis, page 22

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