What's in it for you?

Rises of pound;3,711, increments up to 8% from 6% but nothing for NQTs with good honours degrees. September's new salary structure is complicated. Susannah Kirkman explains what you can expect in your pay packet

Many teachers will be winners after the introduction of a new pay scale in September 2002 which will allow a teacher with only six years' experience to earn pound;28,000. Here are some answers to the five most commonly asked questions about the new salary structure for classroom teachers: Where will I be on the new salary scale?

The new main pay scale is being shortened from nine to six points from September 2002 (see table below). Additional points for experience or extra points for excellent performance will be added to the existing scale before assimilation. For example, a teacher now on point 2 who qualifies for an extra salary point from September will be on M2 of the new pay spine.

I am getting a far smaller percentage salary increase than many of my colleagues. Why are the new scales so unfair?

It is true that some teachers will get much larger pay rises than others. Teachers now on point seven will be placed on the new top pre-threshold grade, M6, and will receive a total pay rise of pound;3,711, or 16.8 per cent. But teachers at the top of the lower pay scale who fail (or decide not to) cross the threshold will receive only a 3.5 per cent increase. (NB: these figures include both the 3.5 per cent pay rise paid from April 2002 and the increase gained by moving up the pay spine in September.) Teachers now on points three or seven will be allowed to jump a point on the old salary scale and catch up with more experienced colleagues to allow assimilation into the new system. Meanwhile, new entrants could miss out unless they qualify for a Golden Hello because they will no longer be rewarded with an extra salary point for a good honours degree.

"Whenever you have any salary assimilation, there are always going to people who complain," says Brian Clegg, deputy secretary for salaries and pensions at the NASUWT, the second biggest teaching union. "Overall, this is a good deal. Teachers have had substantially bigger pay rises than the rest of the public sector."

In future, teachers will be entitled to annual increments worth about 8 per cent a year. On the old scale, the increments were only 6 per cent.

Assimilation will give 113,000 teachers on point seven or below an extra salary boost and make it possible for many of them to apply earlier for threshold assessment. Teachers will now normally be able to apply after five years, rather than seven.

I crossed the performance threshold in 2000. Will I be eligible for another bonus this autumn?

The headteachers' unions say that they expect 80 per cent of the experienced teachers who picked up the pound;2,000 bonuses two years ago to qualify for a pound;1,000 merit-related rise this autumn (around 110,000 staff across the country). If they are successful, they will move on to the next rung of the upper pay scale, with a salary of pound;28,893.

To meet the new criteria agreed with the Government, teachers must show that they are maintaining previous standards, tackling weaknesses and moving towards performance targets. After a threat of industrial action by headteachers, the Government has agreed to raise funding for the performance management scheme from pound;100 to pound;110 million. But some teacher unions are still worried that this will not be enough, and the NUT is still uncomfortable about the link between pay and performance. It has advised any members who are rejected for a bonus to contact its officials.

I will reach the top of the main pay scale in September 2002. When will I be eligible to apply for threshold assessment?

The unions say that teachers on the new M6 spine point should be able to apply for assessment in September 2002. The School Teachers' Review Body has stressed that the threshold review process should operate more quickly and that application procedures should be simplified. The good news is that the 3.5 per cent across the board salary increase also applies to the threshold payment, which rises from pound;2,075 to pound;2,148.

When will I receive the money from the DFES to cover my membership of the General Teaching Council?

Full-time teachers should have received an extra pound;33 in their May pay packets. Part-timers and supply teachers may have to wait longer; they will receive a proportion of the pound;33, based on the number of hours worked. They should check their pay slips to make sure that it is paid.

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