Pay bonus plan to promote school sports

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Teachers who take part in out-of-school sport should be paid more, the Government said yesterday.

The Department for Education has made the recommendation in its evidence to the teachers' pay review body to support the Prime Minister's initiative to promote sport in schools. Teachers said the plan was divisive and the money better spent elsewhere.

The document invites the review body "to recommend extending the current criteria for the award of excellence points to allow for recognition of excellence outside the classroom, for example to take account of involvement in extra-curricular sport".

It also asks review body members to consider whether teachers in tough inner-city schools should be paid more. Ministers, it says, intend to keep tight control of public spending. There are enough teachers and their number increased between January 1994 and 1995, says the document.

However, Gillian Shephard, the Secretary of State for Education, is still fighting for persuade Cabinet colleagues to fund this year's teachers' pay award despite the Treasury's insistence that any public sector pay rises must be funded by efficiency savings.

Last year the Government faced widespread protests from parents and governors after it refused to fund the 2.7 per cent pay award and schools were forced to shed thousands of teachers.

In a memo to Cabinet colleagues leaked last week Mrs Shephard warned that standards would suffer if schools were not funded properly.

Meanwhile, the Government yesterday completed a U turn over nurses' pay when it acknowledged that there would have to be a national salary increase next year.

In evidence to the nurses' pay review body last year, ministers argued there should be no "across the board increase", but in this year's submission, published yesterday, they said that a rise in national pay rates should be "minimal".

Health union leaders yesterday clashed over the significance of the evidence. Unison, the public service union, declared that it constituted a significant shift in policy, while the Royal College of Nursing argued that the Government's submission was still heavily biased towards local pay.

A spokeswoman for the college said the word "minimal" meant the Government was still emphasising the need for pay negotiations to be carried out by each NHS trust.

Earlier this month Unison and organisations representing therapists and other health-service professionals called off plans for industrial action after accepting a new structure for bargaining which involved both a national and local input.