Fury at teachers' pay proposal

By Jonathan Barnes and Ted JeoryTEACHERS should not be fooled into thinking they will be getting a pay rise next year, a union has warned.The Government announced yesterday teachers' pay was to go up by 2.

By Jonathan Barnes and Ted Jeory

TEACHERS should not be fooled into thinking they will be getting a pay rise next year, a union has warned.

The Government announced yesterday teachers' pay was to go up by 2.5%, in line with inflation, next April.

But Martin Goold, Suffolk secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “Talk of a rise is just spin - it's actually a pay freeze.”

Education Secretary Charles Clarke said teachers would get a bigger pay increase of 2.95% in the 2005/06 financial year, although it would be staggered, via a top-up, to September 2005.

The School Teachers Review Body, which advises on pay and conditions, has bowed to Mr Clarke's demand for a deal covering more than one year to prevent another budgets crisis by giving schools time to plan ahead.

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It has also agreed with his request that the basic pay rise for teachers in England and Wales should be kept in line with inflation.

Mr Clarke has accepted its recommendation it should re-examine the promised increases if inflation goes above 3.25% or below 1.75% for 12 months, and that the pay year for teachers should start in September.

But Mr Goold argued: “The pay announcement will do nothing to help our schools. It will not be enough to stop a classroom crisis.

“Two-thirds of new teachers either fail to take up their first appointment or leave the profession within six years. Forty per cent of teachers are due to retire in the next 10 years.

“If you put those two facts together, we've got a recruitment crisis which the Government still seems to be blissfully unaware of.

“Freezing teachers' pay for two years is going to make things even worse. It is not addressing the teacher shortage coming up - many are going to decide they might as well do something else.”

Jerry Glazier, Essex general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, added: “I'm expecting there will be a lot of anger from teachers in the county about this.

“They will see it as just another further erosion of their status and pay. It's not acceptable and our national executive will soon be meeting to discuss a response.”

Howard Williamson, chairman of North Essex Primary Schools Headteachers' Association, said: “The word 'disappointing' doesn't even cover it - I'm disgusted by this.

“The whole message that the Government is sending out to people is that they are simply not interested in education.

“Teachers are grossly underpaid as it is - how do people expect us to attract more into our profession with awards like this?”

Mr Goold also expressed anger at Mr Clarke's efforts to limit the numbers of more experienced teachers allowed to move up the pay scale.

The Government has said about one-third of those eligible should be allowed to do so, but unions saw that as a betrayal of promises by former Education Secretary David Blunkett that all those who qualified should get the increases.

The School Teachers Review Body suggested talks on how to resolve the row over the senior teachers' pay scale, to which Mr Clarke has agreed.

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