Teachers threaten to strike

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The Independent Online
SCHOOL DISRUPTION seems inevitable following a decision by the National Union of Teachers to ballot members for what will be the first one-day national classroom strike for 30 years.

Delegates to the union's annual conference in Brighton heckled David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, after he warned them that strike action over government proposals for performance-related pay was "daft". The conference unanimously backed a motion to ballot members on a boycott of appraisals which underpins the Government's strategy and on a one-day strike in the summer term. The union particularly objects to the use of pupils' results as one of the factors used to determine pay.

Mostyn Phillips of the executive said: "The Government has supplied information on what affects pupil performance. There is overwhelming evidence that it is social background, ethnicity, gender, even date of birth. To tie teachers' pay to pupil performance is a nonsense."

Kevin Courtney, a Camden delegate, said: "Studies have shown that appraisal- base pay systems discriminate against women, older workers and ethnic minorities." The motion was strengthened by an amendment saying that the strike ballot should go ahead unless "proposals to link appraisal pay are definitively withdrawn".

Earlier, angry delegates jeered and heckled as Mr Blunkett told them the proposals were about greater promotion for opportunity for teachers, not crude payment by results.

Delegates shouted "rubbish" and "at least we had real Tories two years ago" as he tried to list improvements the Government was making such as lower class sizes, more nursery education, the repair of crumbling schools and fewer failing schools.

Mr Blunkett said: "Our children deserve better than for us, a government, and you as a profession to be knocking hell's bells out of each other when we are at the beginning of a dialogue."

He said the main principles of performance-related pay were not negotiable but he offered more discussion on the details.