Unions ballot heads on merit pay action

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The Independent Online

Headteachers vowed to bring the Government's flagship performance-related pay scheme to a "juddering halt" yesterday because of a shortage of funds to pay senior teachers.

Nearly 40,000 heads and deputies are to be balloted on industrial action after Easter by the National Association of Head Teachers and the Secondary Heads Association.

Headteachers are furious that the Government provided only £250m to fund the scheme, enough for no more than half the 200,000 eligible senior teachers to receive the £1,000 rise they are expecting. The heads claim that schools will be forced to take at least £1bn from their own budgets over the next six years.

Under the scheme, senior teachers who are judged to meet high standards are eligible for a £2,000 pay rise and access to a higher pay scale promising future rises of £1,000.

More than 200,000 senior teachers achieved their £2,000 rise in the first year of the scheme and will be expecting an extra £1,000 this September. The Government funds all the £2,000 rises, which are awarded on merit alone, and heads want this extended to the £1,000 increases. If the action goes ahead, headteachers will refuse to assess whether their staff merit the £1,000 rises.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "Heads are not willing to be placed in an impossible position as a result of the Government's attempt to run this scheme on the cheap."