Defiant teachers demand pounds 3,000 a year pay rises

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The Independent Online
TEACHERS WERE poised yesterday to threaten strike action unless they receive pay rises of more than pounds 3,000 a year each.

A motion before the National Union of Teachers' annual conference in Brighton rejected government proposals for performance-related pay and backed strikes in support of an increase of 10 per cent pluspounds 1,000 for all teachers. Delegates said all teachers were good teachers and better pay should be given for experience or extra responsibility.

David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, has offered pounds 1bn over two years to increase salaries in return for performance-related pay based partly on pupils' results. But Doug McAvoy, the union's general secretary, said Mr Blunkett would have to release the money eventually, even if teachers refused to accept the new arrangements. Otherwise the Government would face a massive recruitment crisis.

Ian Murch, from Bradford, who seconded the motion for an across-the-board increase, said many new teachers were living in poverty. Fran Postlethwaite from Barnsley said the pounds 1bn would give every teacher a pounds 2,000 rise immediately. Classroom teachers earn up to pounds 23,000. The motion will be voted on tomorrow. The union has already authorised a ballot for a one-day strike in the summer term. Mr McAvoy said some members would be happy if that coincided with national tests for 11-year-olds.

Earlier, the conference passed an emergency motion condemning the Government's proposal and calling for strikes and industrial action if ministers refused to back down.

John Yandell, from Hackney in east London, said: "It is arrogant and daft on Blunkett's part to lecture us on what is going to be good for raising standards in education. We are all super teachers. Why doesn't he pay us as super teachers?"

Jane Nellist, from Coventry, said the proposals would increase stress among children as teachers tried to boost test results at all costs. "We are already seeing play being squeezed out. It will disappear altogether. Teachers will be forced to teach about commas instead of letting children go and play in the sand tray."

Mr Blunkett told the conference on Saturday they would be "daft" to strike over plans that would give classroom teachers who pass a tough assessment a chance to earn up to pounds 35,000 a year.

Review, page 3

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