Clarke stops bonuses for 20,000 teachers

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The Independent Online

Almost 20,000 teachers will be denied the chance of a bonus of more than £1,000 because the Government is imposing a strict limit on the numbers qualifying for "merit rises".

Charles Clarke, the Secretary of State for Education, said he wanted to place a cash limit on the number of senior teachers qualifying for the rises to try to stop school costs rising out of control.

Only one in three of the 30,000 eligible should get them next year, he said, although 90 per cent qualified this year. The clampdown would save more than £500m. And he wants all teachers to face stricter annual performance checks before they can climb to the next rung of their pay scale.

Doug McAvoy, leader of the National Union of Teachers, said it was the act "of the conman who promotes rich rewards then puts conditions in the fine print, making the rewards unachievable for most".

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "We fear the draconian steps taken by the Government to slash the number ... will be an enormous culture shock and potentially highly demotivating."

Mr Clarke said: "Excellent teaching must be nurtured and rewarded. But this means tough choices for headteachers and governors. I am not convinced the present system is robust enough."

The Education Secretary outlined his proposals to the profession's pay review body. He called for a 30-month pay deal so headteachers would have a clearer idea of future costs. He wants that to be followed by a further three-year deal from September 2006.

Across-the-board rises should be limited to the rate of inflation, he said. He would allocate an extra 2.5 per cent to education authorities to cover the cost, he said, adding: "There are now clear signs we are offering pay at the right level to recruit and retain some of the brightest and best talent available in the market."