Teachers' pay deal will create £100,000 heads

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The Independent Online

A pay deal for 400,000 teachers that will see a state school head paid £100,000 a year for the first time was approved by the Government yesterday.

A pay deal for 400,000 teachers that will see a state school head paid £100,000 a year for the first time was approved by the Government yesterday.

Ministers have given school governing bodies new powers to double the amount of money they can award to heads as merit pay, described as a "golden handcuffs". The hope is that the extra money will enable them to retain valued staff.

Overall, the £490m package covering teachers in England and Wales will give an across-the-board rise of 3.5 per cent to all teachers from April. It will also allow them to qualify for performance-related pay rises of £2,000 after five years instead of seven. About 30,000 teachers will be able to apply for the extra money from September.

The deal, adding 5 per cent to the overall teachers' pay bill, was given a cautious welcome by some union leaders last night. But others said it would not be enough to entice new graduates away from more lucrative professions. Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "The recommendations provide the first signs of government recognition of the problems of teacher recruitment and retention but they do not solve the problem."

Gerald Imison, deputy general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, described the 3.5 per cent rise as "frankly disappointing", adding it would, "not do enough to make teaching the attractive profession it needs to be".

Downing Street said it was "good news" which would boost recruitment, while Estelle Morris, the Education Secretary, said it demonstrated "continuing commitment to improving our education system". She added: "I am confident it is affordable but I shall expect the investment to lead to real improvements in standards."

But local education authority leaders and the Conservatives said councils could not afford it without an extra £300m from the Government. Graham Lane, chairman of the Local Government Association's education committee, said funds would have to be diverted from other priorities for schools.

Under the deal, the starting salary for a classroom teacher will be £17,628 a year. Within five years, they can earn £25,746 if they win the performance- related pay rise.

At present, the highest paid head in the land earns £92,000 a year. This deal will allow governing bodies to double the amount they can award in merit pay to retain or recruit heads, adding up to £4,000 to the salary. They can also award the equivalent of two extra points on the pay scale, giving them scope to pay up to £3,000 on top of the 3.5 per cent salary rise.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "At last governors will be able to reward heads appropriately for additional responsibilities."

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, described the move as "OK", but added: "We should be allowing governors to award what they like."

The deal, recommended by the profession's independent pay review body, compares with average pay deals of 3.1 per cent in the past year and is above the rate of inflation.

But union leaders and ministers agreere negotiating teachers' contracts to reduce workload is likely to have more long-term implications for attracting more people into the profession. The pay review body is expected to report before Easter.