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Proposal for schools to set own pay

All schools could be allowed to set their own teachers' pay under controversial proposals published by the Government.

The move could leave schools competing to offer the best salaries to attract the best teachers. But it is likely to spark a fresh row with teaching unions and raise the prospect of strikes.

The proposal, one of the options laid out in the Government's submission to the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB), would mean a complete break-up of the current national pay scheme for teachers. The STRB, which currently deals with pay and conditions for the profession, has been asked by ministers to look into how regional pay could be introduced.

In its submission to the STRB review, the Department for Education argues that the current pay system is too "rigid, complex and difficult to navigate" and should be replaced with one that rewards good teachers, attracts the best candidates and gives schools the freedom to spend their money as they want.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said: "Ensuring there are enough teachers, and that those teachers are of the highest quality, is critical to driving up standards in our schools.

"Reform of the current pay system for teachers is fundamental to driving up teacher quality. The current pay system is rigid, complex and difficult to navigate. It does not support schools to recruit and retain the high quality teachers or leaders they need to address specific shortages and benefit their pupils."

Teaching unions have vowed to campaign against any attempt to remove national pay structures, arguing that such a move would cut teachers' salaries and leave some schools, especially those in deprived areas, struggling to recruit top staff.

At their annual conference last month, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) voted to take "all appropriate action", including being prepared to ballot for national strikes, if ministers put forward specific proposals attacking teachers' national pay and conditions.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: "National pay scales for teachers give a transparency and ensure much greater fairness and non-discrimination than pay levels determined at school level, and should remain. Education is a nationally delivered service so local pay for a teacher is completely inappropriate.

"Teachers are already suffering from pay freezes, job losses and increases in pension contributions - they now face pay cuts due to a policy based on ideology, not evidence. Like so many of Michael Gove's ideas, these proposals will demotivate teachers, damage team working in schools and worsen recruitment and retention problems - the very opposite of what is needed."

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