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WARNING : ESTELLE ON THE ATTACK

True to form, while we were on our summer break, Estelle Morris chose to get ready for a major attack on teachers' pay.

On August 1st, the Secretary of State wrote to the Review Body - who decide our pay - to let them know what she had in mind ! If you think the "threshold" was bad news - you ain't seen nothing yet !

This is what her letter called for:

"The need to make the pay system simpler and more flexible"

"Responsibility in all public sector pay settlements - put bluntly (her words, not ours), an excessive national pay award would put [school workforce remodelling] in jeopardy"

"A pay settlement covering a longer time period - perhaps three years"

"The principle that pay progression should be linked to greater challenge for the individual; and the need for movement along the upper pay scale to be progressively more challenging as teachers move past point 2"

"[In Inner London], the need for targeted measures, as blanket increases in London Allowances will not help"

"securing a more modern, streamlined and deregulated pay structure which promotes headteacher flexibility"

"[to consider] whether movement up the main pay scale (i.e. before the threshold) for teachers should be performance-related"

So Estelle's vision of teacher's pay is clear - individual bargaining, PRP, teacher-against-teacher, right from the start of your career.

UPPER PAY SPINE THREAT

Despite teacher's opposition, the "threshold" and performance man-agement were imposed on schools. They may not have been the immediate threat we feared. To ease it in, the Government made sure most teachers succeeded. But to progress on the Upper Pay Spine now means your pay will be linked to your performance management ( if not worse) - with all the divisiveness that opens up between "team leaders" and their colleagues.

We believe that all teachers who passed the threshold should be entitled to move further up the spine - in fact the whole thing should be replaced with automatic progression. Estelle Morris' letter makes clear that everything we warned about New Labour's PRP agenda still holds true - and we're going to need to act to defend teachers and education from these divisive attacks.

..but on SATs - YES to this Minister !

Jane Davidson, Wales's Minister for Education writing in the TES on 30.8.02 had this to say on KS1 testing:

"My decision to discontinue the testing of seven-year-olds at the end of key stage 1 was taken with overwhelming support from teachers, parents and representative bodies.

In most European countries, children begin schools and are introduced to a formal curriculum at a later age...When comparing children's reading skills, it is interesting to note that in the 10 highest-scoring countries for achievement in reading, the children do not begin school till the age of six.

In Wales we are looking at the introduction of a specially-tailored early-years curriculum. A formal curriculum test at the age of seven would not, therefore, be appropriate."

So why are we testing at 7 here ?