Teachers told no pay rises over inflation

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Indy Politics
Teachers were warned by the Government yesterday that they should not expect increases higher than inflation in this year's pay round.

Evidence from the Department of Education to the Teachers' Pay Review Body hints strongly at ministers' determination to keep pay settlements at about 3 per cent despite teachers' demands for increases of up to 16 per cent. It also wants more of the pay bill linked to teachers' performance.

The document suggests that the Government may intervene if pay review bodies fail to accept its advice. 'The Government's firm monetary policy will not allow excessive pay settlements to feed through to higher inflation,' says the report.

Teachers last year had a rise of 7.5 per cent. The report argues that their pay rises can be kept down because of big improvements in the numbers being recruited and joining teacher training courses.

The number of teachers recruited last year rose by 21 per cent, the highest figure for 15 years. For the first time even teacher training courses in the traditional shortage subjects managed to recruit enough students.

Applications for one-year postgraduate certificate of education courses are up by more than a quarter on last year and those for undergraduate courses have more than doubled. 'There are significant grounds for believing that teaching is genuinely seen by more people as an attractive career,' the document says.

Vacancies have continued to fall, especially in London, and there has been a dip in the number of early retirements.

The Government's thoughts on how pay should be related to teachers' performance will be published shortly but the report comments that the present system of incentive allowances has not 'proved to be a particularly effective way of encouraging the recognition and reward of good performance.' The report concludes that a higher proportion of the pay bill should be linked to performance.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, which this week asked for a 9 per cent rise, said: 'The department seems to be saying exactly the opposite of the Prime Minister, who said it was one of his aspirations to enhance the pay of teachers so that they did not fall behind other professions.'

A spokesman for the National Union of Teachers, which wants a 16 per cent rise, said: 'This illustrates that the review body is not independent. The Government is heavily hinting that it is going to overturn its recommendations.'