Heads' pay rise twice that of teachers

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PRIMARY HEAD teachers will receive pay increases of between 6 and 9 per cent this year as part of the teachers' pay settlement, which is due to be announced on Monday.

Classroom teachers, by contrast, are expected to be awarded a rise of just under 4 per cent, well above the inflation rate of 2.5 per cent.

Teachers reacted angrily last night to the news that classroom teachers were to receive "inferior" treatment to heads. But the Government believes that head teachers are the key to their ambitious programme for raising standards. Ministers want to stem the recruitment crisis for headships in small primary schools. Increases will depend on the size of the school. Heads of the smallest schools are expected to receive the biggest rises which will take their pay to about pounds 32,500. Heads of secondary schools will also receive higher-than-average rises of between 4 and 6 per cent.

In the last academic year 28 per cent of primary headships had to be readvertised because no suitable candidate came forward in the first round. One in five secondary headships was also readvertised. The worst difficulties are in inner London where 60 per cent of headships were not filled at the first attempt. David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "At last the School Teachers' Review Body has started to recognised the size of heads' jobs as well as the need to resolve the current severe recruitment crisis. More still needs to be done to reward heads for their heavy responsibilities." But Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "This is pretty appalling treatment for the poor infantry in the classroom. There is no justification for this inferior treatment of ordinary teachers. This is a serious error and it will sour discussions on the Green Paper very seriously indeed."

Ministers are holding talks with teacher unions on a Green Paper, which would introduce performance-related pay and offer substantial increases to teachers who match new standards. Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the pay rise would do nothing to resolve the recruitment crisis across the profession. "Three or four per cent doesn't deal with the issue. The Government is complacent about the shortages at a time when class sizes are worsening," he said.

Local authorities have already warned that a teachers' pay rise of more than 3 per cent will mean that teachers will have to be made redundant and class sizes will rise. Ministers, however, argue that the 5.7 per cent rise in what they are expecting authorities to spend this year is enough to cover the increases. The rise for teachers will not be phased. This year teachers were given a 3.8 per cent increase but its value was cut to 2.6 per cent over the year as 1.8 per cent was not paid until last month.

David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, believes that the big changes to the profession in the Green Paper, which proposes salaries of up to pounds 35,000 for the best classroom teachers, will help to solve the recruitment crisis.

n Scotland's biggest teaching union yesterday angrily rejected a pay offer from local authorities calling it a "deep insult". Union bosses said the undisclosed offer on pay and conditions made by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities earlier this week was "wholly inadequate".