Whitehall defuses angry teachers response to PRP

8 Apr 99
The government has moved to defuse the row with the teaching unions over its plans to reform teachers' pay.

09 April 1999

The National Union of Teachers has maintained its opposition to performance-related pay (PRP), while the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers has said it wants to continue talking to ministers.

Schools minister Estelle Morris made a minor policy concession in her speech on April 6 to the NASUWT conference in Eastbourne, by saying that the appraisal system on which PRP would be partially based would come in on an 'introductory' basis from September 1999.

But the Department for Education and Employment appears determined to have teachers on new pay arrangements from September 2000, whatever the views of the unions.

The NASUWT admitted that it was still unclear what ground Morris had yielded in her announcement. 'We are not sure what is up for grabs,' said a spokesman. 'It appears that the green paper is not but the technical paper is.'

The green paper states that PRP will be introduced from September 2000, with £1bn available for the first two years. The technical paper, published in February, makes more detailed proposals on how the system might work and how the extra money could be distributed. The consultation period ended on March 31.

The NASUWT is implacably opposed to any system under which teachers' pay is determined by exam results. 'There is room for negotiation and consultation,' the spokesman said. 'We are just upset that the spin put on it has been linked far too much to payment by results.'

And the NUT general secretary Doug McAvoy described the announcement as a 'fudge and a con'. The union has already said that aside from its principled opposition to PRP, the £1bn laid aside to cover the scheme would be short by at least £400m. McAvoy said in January that any system of incentive-based payment could not be fair if the resources are rationed.


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