Teachers win ground-breaking deal to be paid extra for marking national test papers

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The Independent Online

Teachers have clinched an unprecedented deal to be paid extra for marking test papers, which could open the way for them to earn overtime payments for a range of out-of-school activities.

Teachers have clinched an unprecedented deal to be paid extra for marking test papers, which could open the way for them to earn overtime payments for a range of out-of-school activities.

The agreement, reached with unions representing staff in Solihull, West Midlands, will provide for a fee of £3 for marking papers by pupils aged 12 or 13 sitting national English and maths tests, amounting to about £100 for every class marked and more for teachers looking after several classes.

It is likely to lead to calls for similar payments to be made for other extracurricular activities, such as covering for vacancies, supervising outside activities and taking homework clubs.

Solihull is one of 13 authorities in England chosen to pilot the Government's literacy strategy in secondary schools. The strategy will be introduced in every secondary school from September.

If agreed nationally, the deal would cost about £3m a year, with a maximum of one million children sitting the tests. Teachers, particularly in primary schools, who mark similar tests are bound to press for the same payment.

The deal, coming on the eve of talks with the Government to avert industrial action over teachers' workload, will be exploited by unions demanding a 35-hour week. Research for the teaching profession's independent pay review body shows primary school teachers work on average 53 hours a week and those in secondaries 51 hours.

Union leaders will portray the agreement as an example of how extra payments could be used to compensate teachers for an increased workload as a result of other initiatives.

All three teachers' unions ­ the NUT, National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers and Association of Teachers and Lecturers ­ want a 35-hour week written into contracts, a concession ministers are refusing to make.

What could emerge in behind-the-scenes discussions with the Government and local education authorities is a move towards more overtime payments for teachers taking on extra work.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, described the Solihull deal as "the first of its kind".

He said: "We will offer the experience as an example of how practically to tackle the workload problem when we meet the Government on Tuesday. Yet again the Government has failed to cost the workload implications of its initiatives. The initiative in Solihull is a very positive step to protect teachers from overwork. This is certainly the approach the union will seek to adopt when the strategy is adopted nationally."

The Department for Education was reluctant to discuss any national implications of the Solihull deal, saying only that it had no objection to an agreement which made "common sense" locally.

The rates of pay agreed by Solihull are in line with those earned by external markers who volunteer to mark national curriculum tests and GCSE and A-level papers.

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