Heads to rebel over pay of star teachers

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The Independent Online
HEAD teachers will resist government plans for a new grade of superteacher who may earn more than many heads.

The new "advanced skills teachers", announced yesterday, would be paid between pounds 25,000 and pounds 40,000 a year to remain in the classroom rather than switching to management.

The best-paid would earn more than all but 1.1 per cent of primary head teachers and all but 6.7 per cent of secondary deputy heads.

Head teachers' leaders said they would be advising heads and governing bodies not to appoint superteachers unless heads' and deputies' differentials were protected.

From next year, the average salary of primary deputy heads will be about pounds 27,000 and secondary deputies around pounds 35,000. The equivalent figures for heads are pounds 32,000 and pounds 48,000.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, recognised that good teachers were "worth their weight in gold" but added: "It is very unlikely that there will be enough money in school budgets to pay the salaries demanded. There are many more good teachers in schools than those who will be covered by this grade."

The scheme would deepen the crisis in recruitment for heads and deputies: "If you can get that sort of money by being an advanced skills teacher, why apply to be a head?"

The Government's proposals are based on recommendations from the teachers' independent pay review body which says that superteachers should have extra duties on top of their classroom teaching, should not have the same limit on their working time as ordinary teachers and should have their performance reviewed by inspectors each year.

Its report described the scheme as "radical and innovative with potentially far-reaching effects on teachers' career structure and pay".

David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education, wants superteachers to spend at least a day a week in other schools. Mr Blunkett said: "The new grade will reward the very best classroom teachers. The introduction of this grade shows our commitment to rewarding the best teachers and encouraging the brightest graduates to take up teaching as a career."

Advanced skill teachers will spend up to 20 per cent of their time spreading good practice to other schools.

The first teachers on the new grade will be selected this September and work both in specialist schools and the first education actions zones, designed to raise standards in deprived areas.

Teachers said the new arrangements would create unfair divisions among teachers. Eamonn O'Kane, of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "The great majority of able, committed teachers will, by definition, not be eligible to become advanced skills teachers and that is bound to cause resentment."

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "There will be big problems created by cutting across the management structure in schools, and the structure of extra pay for additional responsibilities."

A survey of members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers found that teachers thought between a fifth and a half of the profession should be recognised as advanced skills teachers.