Heads rebuffed in fight for funding

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The Independent Online

Headteachers will be rebuffed today when they demand extra cash for senior teachers' merit rises, putting them on a collision course with the Government.

The two headteachers' unions – the Secondary Heads Association and the National Association of Head Teachers – are to meet Stephen Timms, the minister for School Standards, over their threat last week to bring to a "juddering halt" the performance-related pay scheme

They are balloting their members on industrial action for the first time in the history of state education over the Government's decision to provide funding for only half the 200,000 teachers expecting to receive a £1,000 pay rise this September.

All teachers who have won the £2,000 merit awards are eligible for the further rise. But ministers want heads to do a further assessment of their standards before offering them the rises.

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills made clear the extra money they were demanding would not be on the table today.

The Government is giving £400m to meet the cost of the £2,000 "threshold" rises in full. It is also paying an additional grant of £250m over two years to fund the extra rise. Teachers' leaders estimate £450m would be needed to give the rise to all eligible staff.

Headteachers argue that those eligible were assessed as good classroom teachers only a year ago and should not have to face another hurdle. If the ballot comes out in favour of industrial action, heads will boycott the scheme.