Teachers relent over new pay deal

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THE SECOND-biggest teaching union offered yesterday to do a deal over performance-related pay to avert industrial action in schools.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said most staff would accept pay linked to appraisals by heads. But ministers would have to compromise on plans to bring pupils' examination targets into the pay formula.

A union-commissioned poll of 1,000 teachers published yesterday found 57 per cent were willing to accept a link between pay and appraisal "which takes account of skill, knowledge, ability and effort". Three- quarters of those polled also agreed with proposals to introduce maths, English and computer tests for trainee teachers.

In contrast, 73 per cent disagreed with proposals linking pay to the progress of pupils and more than half disagreed with the Government's "fast-track" proposals for rapid advancement for teachers with exceptional ability.

The NASUWT poll offers the Government the first hope of reconciliation after the publication this month of proposals for pay linked to performance.

But Mr de Gruchy said: "This system will not work unless the Government gets the agreement of the majority of teachers. There is no way that what they are proposing now will do that." A Department of Education spokesman welcomed the poll results. "We confirm ... our readiness to talk about the criteria for assessing teachers' performance."

The biggest teaching union, the National Union of Teachers, has already threatened a series of one-day strikes over the package.

Other union leaders have warned that annual appraisal is "unmanageable".

Under government plans, teachers will have to pass an annual "MOT", based on exam targets and appraisals by managers, to win pay rises.