Pay for teachers linked to truancy and exam results

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The Independent Online
TEACHERS WILL have to meet targets to cut truancy, improve exam results and reduce exclusions to secure pay rises under government plans to be announced today.

Most union leaders said ministers had watered down their original proposals but the Government insisted that the principles of the scheme, including the link between pay and exam results, remained intact.

Under the proposals, each teacher will agree targets with a head or head of department each year as part of an "annual performance review". Targets may include cutting truancy among 13-year-olds by 5 per cent, and increasing the proportion of A* and A grades in maths at GCSE from 8 to 15 per cent. Targets for heads and deputies include improving the proportion of well-behaved classes in special schools and reducing the number of exclusions from multi-ethnic schools.

David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, will argue that the scheme does not involve crude payment by results - schools' and pupils' individual circumstances will be taken into account when targets are agreed. Teachers' professional development is also emphasised in deference to union demands.

The document says the review should "inform" teachers' annual pay increments and should help to decide whether they cross a new pay threshold. Success would mean an immediate pay rise of about 10 per cent and access to a new pay scale up to pounds 35,000 a year. Those whose performance does not come up to scratch could be denied annual increments.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "I am very disappointed by the heavy emphasis on crude exam performance. This is voluntary. I imagine that thousands of teachers will decide to boycott it and not volunteer for the threshold test." His union wants teachers to be judged by their classroom performance, not by exam results.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, which has been vociferous in its opposition, gave the plans a cautious welcome, saying they had "semi- detached if not detached" the issue of pay from pupils' results. They amounted to a "real shift", he argued, partly because results would now only "inform" rather than determine decisions about pay.

But senior government sources said: "Neither the external assessors nor Ofsted will approve a system which does not relate pay to pupils' results. If the assessors are not satisfied, they will not release money for teachers to pass through the threshold."

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said that some of the suggested targets were still "a little too numerical". But he added: "These proposals are a big improvement on what was originally on the table."

t Manchester was the most popular university with students visiting the admissions service website for this year's clearing process, which matches students with spare places.

Figures released yesterday by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) showed four million hits on its website between 19 August and 19 September, at least three times as many as for the previous year. Of a total of 481,000 course searches, Manchester had 5,289, followed by Cambridge (4,617), Leeds, King's College London, Nottingham, Birmingham, Southampton, University College London, Imperial College London, and Bath.

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