Department for Education and Employment
Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3BT
30th March 1999
To the DFEE,
We write on behalf of the Islington branches of the following unions:
National Union of Teachers (NUT)
National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT)
Secondary Heads Association (SHA)
National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)
We have studied the governments Green Paper "Teacher: Meeting the Challenge of Change" and the associated "technical document" and we applaud the governments attempt to encourage new teachers into teaching and to reduce the burden of bureaucracy.
Unfortunately, we believe that the proposals fail in a number of ways;
Further development of the concept of "superteachers" and fast-track promotion can only be divisive in the staffroom context where success is generally the result of a large number of teachers working together with common purpose.
the system is far too bureaucratic and no provision has been made to recompense schools for their management time.
allying pay awards with achieving test or coursework grades which are teacher-assessed could reduce the currency of British qualifications. We do not believe that individual teachers or school departments would allow themselves to be swayed into by such considerations, but nevertheless, there might be some who would make the accusation.
cash-limiting the award of annual increments will make it harder for hard-pressed schools (possibly with falling rolls) to retain high quality staff.
those who successfully argue for their annual increment may be made to feel that they are doing so at the expense of the school or other colleagues.
in the case where a head gives a positive appraisal, but the external assessor disagrees, the teacher involved might take out a grievance against the governors. This cuts across all principles of responsibility and accountability.
There are over two hundred thousand teachers who would be eligible to apply for the threshold award. Even if "up to" £1 billion were sufficient to cover this in the first two years (before allowing for the cost of the other measures and twenty thousand support staff) the larger wage bill would continue. Withdrawing the funding, while cash-limiting the award of annual increments is a recipe for turmoil in the education service in years to come. This runs counter to the aims of raising morale and recruiting and retaining high quality teachers.
during any transition there could be a reduction in pay for some staff - a teacher on point 9 would be ineligible to apply to cross the threshold for a year, but should have been entitled to one point for that year of capable service.
further reductions in pay for other staff (as proposed post-threshold increments are less than present increments. £4-500 rather than £1,437 (point 9 - point 10)
potential reduction in pay for some staff (as increments are "non-consolidated")
alternatively, in some cases, there might be some incentive for schools to offer the threshold award as an inducement to gain new staff. This should not be an alternative to a realistic London (or other similar area) weighting comparable to other professions.
The development of contracts is a complicated task:
To produce a nationally agreed contract for post-threshold may not be possible in the required timescale.
To allow each school to produce its own contracts would allow them to place a lien on the LEA and ultimately central government which may not have been anticipated.
A scenario in which thousands of teachers have different contracts would be a nightmare for local authority personnel departments.
This list is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather demonstrates that the proposals expounded in the Green Paper and its Technical Document do not presently represent a cohesive whole which could be used to move the teaching profession and the education service forward. The presentation of these points, although highlighting some areas of common concern, does not change the position of the individual unions. Islington NUT, in particular, remains opposed to the contents of the Green Paper.
Shaun Doherty, NUT
Greg Robbins, NASUWT
Simon Marsh, NAHT
Ann Mullins, SHA
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