Heads accused of 'sell-out' pay deal
HEADS have extracted millions from the Government to finance performance bonuses in a deal that classroom unions warn will damage the pay prospects of thousands of teachers.
The National Association of Head Teachers and the Secondary Heads Association announced this week that they were cancelling their ballot for industrial action after reaching a compromise with the Government over bonuses for senior staff.
Under the deal a fund for performance pay will be reduced from £100 million to £90m. But a separate uncapped fund will be used for leadership staff, which will cover at least 60 per cent of the bonuses bill, and is expected to cost the Department for Education and Skills £15m to £20m.
SHA general secretary John Dunford said the deal would be beneficial to all teaching staff, and that 80 per cent of eligible teachers on the upper pay scale would now be awarded bonuses instead of 50 per cent, as feared. This, he said, was partly because the number eligible for the bonuses had dropped within the past two years from 196,000 to 138,000.
However, the deal has been attacked by the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers. They are furious they were not consulted, despite having thousands of members who are on the upper pay and leadership scales as heads, deputies, department heads and experienced classroom teachers.
Doug McAvoy, NUT general secretary, said: "The whole thing has been decided in secret, and it's ended up as a dog's dinner. Their agreement is a sell-out. I believe it has significant detrimental implications for thousands of teachers."
He warned that it would benefit leadership staff at the expense of teachers on the upper pay spine, and said the union would launch legal action if any of its members were discriminated against.
He added that new and confusing criteria have been introduced recommending which teachers should receive bonuses, although both the DFES and SHA insist that the criteria remain unchanged.
The NASUWT has warned that it will also take action if classroom teachers who meet the national criteria are denied payment when the new system starts in September.
General secretary Eamonn O'Kane said that the reallocation of money by the Government "may be little more than sleight of hand".
Both the SHA and NAHT claim the deal demonstrates the effectiveness of their threatened boycott of performance pay, although Education Secretary Estelle Morris has insisted she was not moved by threats of industrial action. She said that the agreement exemplifies the sort of "constructive work" between unions and the Government that she wished to see.