Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120-139)|
WEDNESDAY 6 MARCH 2002
120. So you do not think that system and those
structures are in place at the moment to support the growing number
of classroom and other assistants there are in schools?
(Dr Dunford) I think it needs review.
Mr Simmonds: Can I ask one further question,
Chairman: I would be grateful if you would ask
a question on workload management!
121. I will ask the question I asked Peter Smith
earlier which is to do with the workload with regard to the funding
that comes from central Government, the way the schools are funded
by different streams, and also some of it being ring-fenced. Do
you agree that that adds unnecessarily to the workload of your
(Dr Dunford) Yes, hugely. We have identified over
70 different funding streams through which secondary schools get
funding, and I do not suppose primary schools are very different,
and I think that does make an enormous amount of work for schools.
ICT is an example.
(Mrs Griffin) The network learning communities that
we referred to earlier would create £50,000 for each school
and yet the bureaucracy that is associated with them is out of
this world. My deputy said yesterday that he was very happy to
link with the schools we had established as part of a possible
community, but he did not think the bureaucracy was worth £50,000
on top of everything else. He did not think he could squeeze it
122. What system would you like to see put in
place? Do you think schools should be given the money and the
head teachers, the other senior staff and governors should be
allowed to decide how to spend it? Or do you think there should
be total control from the LEAs, saying, "This is your money,
this is how you spend it"?
(Mr Hart) I think that we do have to move as soon
as we possibly canthat is why the new funding system coming
on stream in the spring is so important. We do need to move as
quickly as we can to a situation where we do not have all these
funding streams, where actually the school receives their budget
under the new system that does sweep up all the existing grant
mechanisms. That is difficult. You cannot do it in year one because
you have the Excellence in Cities grant money, the standards grant
money (of which the Excellence in Cities is a part), you have
got the Chancellor's money (as I call it) and you have got the
pay money, the threshold money, that is £700 million, for
instance. All that has to be brought into some synch. You can
do that on a transitional basis but, eventually, I believe very
strongly, we should give the school the budget and then the school
will decide how that budget is spent. But you cannot do it in
year one, you have got to do it on a transitional basis.
123. Do you think that would free up teachers'
time to do other things, whether it be in the classroom or outside
in non-contact time?
(Mr Hart) Absolutely. With that, I would add this
point, it comes back to the support staff. One of the bids we
made, so to speak, to the PricewaterhouseCoopers survey and subsequently
to the STRB was that we should have a big increase in what I call
bursars in the state sector. That has been accepted by government
as being a major issue. The sooner we can move from training to
having a decent cohort of senior admin officers or bursars throughout
the state sector, tied to that new budgetary mechanism, we will
solve an aspect of the work load problem at a stroke.
124. Is it not the case that many of your members,
the head teachers in schools, are sitting on huge reserves? In
Kent I think there is in the region of £25 million in school
reserves. When you think that the county council has a budget
of £1.3 billion and reserves of considerably less than £25
million, do you not think, therefore, there is quite a lot of
scope for schools to be able to fund teachers pay awards?
(Dr Dunford) I think there is a lot of misinformation
going around, or misinterpretation perhaps I should say, about
the level of school reserves. As a head teacher I would aim for
perhaps 3 per cent or so as a level of school reserves at any
one time, but a number of factors mean that sometimes, at the
end of the financial year on that particular day when it is counted,
that is going to be higher. First of all, I may be keeping some
money back for particular planned expenditure; secondly, I may
have got some money on one of these 70 different funding streams
that has actually come to me quite late during the financial year
and it has not been spent yetbecause long-term financial
planning in school is very, very difficult indeed. So there is
a range of issues around the levels of reserves that need to be
kept. Of course one of the reasons for keeping slightly higher
reserves in some parts of the country is that, where you face
possible financial uncertainty in the future, you want actually
to keep if you can a slightly higher level of reserve. I think
the reserves in some schools may be unjustifiably high, and that
is true and I will accept that if there are no reasons why the
governors or the parents know why that money is being kept. But
in the case of most schoolsand there are 25,000 of them,
remember, so there are bound to be some diseconomies of scale
in the systemI do not think the level of reserves is unacceptable
at all. But I certainly do not think you should look to that to
solve other funding problems because inevitably it would be a
125. I am slightly sceptical about your complaints.
When a teacher said to me, "Well, we are not getting any
more money for ICT training." "How much is there in
reserves?" "£100,000"this is in a primary
school"because we want a capital project." I
asked, "How much is that?" "£300,000 at some
point in the future."
(Mr Hart) The overall national picture is something
in the order of 3 per cent. We are absolutely nationally on a
par with the Audit Commission recommendations. The Audit Commission
recommendations are pitched at about that level, so nationally
the amount of money in reserves is pretty well on a line with
what the Audit Commission recommended. There are schools that
are keeping back too much money. My organisation has on at least
two occasions in the last 12 months advised its members very strongly
only to keep in reserve (a) a reasonable contingencywhich
is what John is talking aboutand (b) any money that has
got to be kept back for committed programmes, and, what is more,
that should then be publicly declared. We have made representations
to the department, they have been accepted, that when the section
52 statements come out next year there must be a clear category
within that statement that makes it abundantly clear why the school
is keeping that money in reserve and what it is there for. That
will, I think, give us public confidence, in the sense that we
are telling the public, telling the parents, exactly why the money
is there. Nothing is hidden: that is why it is there. Of course,
if parents and others in the community think that that is an unjustifiably
large figure, they can challenge it.
126. You are obviously very unhappy or you would
not be involved in some sort of industrial action (as it is described
in the newspapers). We represent real constituents, parents, and
in a sense this is a unique opportunity to spend five minutes
with you explaining in a sense what is the reason for your unhappiness.
Too often when we have witnesses here we all speak the sort of
language that educationists all understand and a lot of people
in my constituency do not fully understand. I wonder if we could
just probe for a moment. Let me give you an example. There are
two schools. One has a head, a management system, where 10 people
got through the threshold. Presumably you want money for that
head to give all those 10 people who got through the threshold
their increase in pay. A school down the road only got three through
the threshold. Again, you would want all three to get the money
straight away. I am trying to explain this in terms of the average
constituent out there. Tell me, where is the rub between you and
the Government. The Government is presumably saying, "Hang
on, we did not give you a blank cheque. Some of these people have
to wait for their threshold to come through, they have to be prioritised
by management on the ground" or is it something other?
(Mr Hart) I think the rub is in two areas. Firstly,
it is very clear from Estelle's letter she sent yesterday to every
head teacher in the country, that what the department is trying
to do is actually to ratchet up the performance criteria because
that letter actually drives a coach and horses through the pay
and conditions document. This might seem very technical, but it
is not. On the ground it is critical. The department wanted people
who had gone through the threshold to move up the upper spine
on an increasingly higher and higher and higher performance-related
basis. So you had to perform better and better and better and
better. That was rejected by the School Teachers' Review Body.
Emphatically. They said, "That is not an appropriate performance-related
pay scheme. If you meet your objectives which have been agreed
by the end of the year, then you have a reasonable expectation
that you will be paid the extra point moving up the upper spine."
What Estelle did yesterday in that letter was actually to rewrite
the performance criteria by talking about "only the most
effective teachers will move up". She is using language which
I think is attempting to redefine something that the School Teachers
Review Body emphatically rejected. That is an issue that is causing
a great deal of angst out there in the schools. Head teachers
are very, very concerned about how they pitch criteria which reflects
the STRB's wording, which the Government accepted, let alone pitch
criteria which actually go beyond that and generate increased
127. How much is each increase along the spine?
(Mr Hart) About £1,000. Just over £1,000
plus on costs.
128. Is that not, theoretically, a blank cheque
you are asking for?
(Mr Hart) No, we are not. We are saying that, just
like the threshold, we see no reason at all why for a sensible
period of time, if a teacher is assessed as moving up the upper
spine, that teacher should not be paid. The other point I was
making is this: we must not forget, Chairman, that the School
Teachers' Review Body emphatically recommended this year to the
Government that they increase the £250 million on the table
over the next two yearsincrease it substantially. The STRBand
it is made up of people who broadly speaking come from the private
sector, people who have experience of performance-related pay
schemes, including the Chairman Tony Vineallsaid, "Jack
up the money on the table significantly because if you do not
do that, the performance-related pay system is going to be at
risk." They said that and the secretary of state rejected
that recommendation. It was the only recommendation she rejected.
So we have two issues: (1) Are we being asked to apply criteria
which are getting in fact progressively more demanding?and
we think that is wrongbut, even more importantly, (2) Are
we being asked to run a PRP system with inadequate money?and
we think that is wrong as well. That is really the cause of our
(Dr Dunford) David is absolutely right, the question
of the criteria is at the core of the problem here. I have to
say that we would not have invented an upper pay spine with five
points on it, where we are going to have to go through all of
this five times once every two years. A much shorter spine with
much larger amounts of money between each decision would have
been much more sensible. But we are where we are. If I can, as
it were, put in layman's terms what David has been explaining,
it is thisand I think it is this which has caused so much
of the unhappiness here: whereas the secretary of state is now
using phrases, in her letter yesterday, like "excellent teachers"
and "the most effective teachers will progress up",
in fact, when David Blunkett introduced this scheme, he said that
it was in order to get good classroom teachers up to £30,000
a year, that they should have a reasonable expectation of getting
to £30,000 a year. I think he has raised expectations. It
is not an unreasonable salary for a cracking good classroom teacher
late in their career, £30,000, or £31,000 as it is now,
and we want to see our best staff get up to that. We who are dealing
with the sharpest of sharp ends of the teacher recruitment and
retention problems see that the present system as it is being
introduced will have a dire effect on children's education because
of its effect on recruitment and retention. But, fundamentally,
we think it is about that change from good teachers with the expectation
of £30,000 a year now becoming excellent, most effective.
129. Can I come back to the point you made earlier,
Chairman, which was the differential between the schools that
had 10 through the threshold and three through the threshold,
which I think is a matter of dispute. My understanding is that
was ring-fenced money. If you had 10 or 12 or 3, that money was
ring-fenced and those schools got that money. What we are now
talking about is the additional targets, whatever they may be,
five elements. I just want to challenge you, please, as to what
the difference is between Estelle's excellent and your cracking
(Dr Dunford) I should not have put the word "cracking"
in, should I? I am sorry about that.
130. That is what Estelle is saying about excellent.
(Dr Dunford) It is good, is the point I was making.
But there is a substantial difference, as Valerie has pointed
out, between a threshold which is fully funded, which we believe
to be over-bureaucratic but we support in principle, and the upper
spine where we are getting into all these funding problems.
(Mr Hart) Can I quickly come in on that because I
think you have made a very valid point. I simply want to say that
we must be talking about good classroom teachers moving up. We
did the threshold, about 97 per cent went through. Those 97 per
cent, 200,000 teachers, are now sitting on point 1 of the upper
spine. I think it would send a wholly negative, demotivating message
if we were actually to be saying: "My ball-park figure is,
I think, probably about 80 per cent of those are worthy to move
up," if we were saying that the reality is that only a small
proportion, these "excellent" few, should be moving
up. I think that is absolutely wrong. I am saying that the good
classroom teacher, who has gone through the threshold, who continues
to demonstrate "sustained and substantial performance and
a contribution to the work of the school", that person is
worthy of moving up the upper spine year on year. If you want
the description "the most effective teachers" what have
you got an advanced skills teacher grade for? I thought they were
the most effective teachers in the business. They have a special
(Mrs Griffin) I am not frightened of our decisions
but my results are such that we get an A-star in the PANDA report
at GCSE in every category. How do I say to some of my staff, "You
are not effective"? In terms of raiding other pots, I have
500 in the sixth form, the funding for Curriculum 2000 was woefully
inadequate and we are struggling to meet that particular need
anyway. So I have got excellent staff and it would be very, very
difficult to say to half, "You have got to wait," because
they have contributed to the success of the school just as much
as the half that I would be putting through.
131. Just pursuing this point, from the point
of view of many of the members of the trade union to which I belong,
which is the Transport and General Workers Trade Unionand
there are probably some train drivers in that union!they
would say, "Teachers and head teachers have had a significant
pay rise year on year over the last five years. They still get
annual holidays far in excess of the wildest dreams of people
working elsewhere in the public services." You are now being
offered an additional pay rise for a significant number of teachers
at the top of their profession and people say, "Well, look
at other people working in education, particularly classroom assistants.
If there is a limited pot of money to allocate, would it not be
more beneficial to the education of children to increase the pay
levels of classroom assistants and invest more in encouraging
them to train to be teachers"following the argument
of Peter Smith earlier"than simply giving £1,000
or £2,000 to teachers at the top of the range?" There
is this feeling amongst the public that teachers and head teachers
are never satisfied, that they had justifiable criticisms of pay
salaries and structure in the 1980s and early 1990s, but now,
five years after a period of continuous improvement, you are still
(Dr Dunford) But the pay of teachers compares very
unfavourably with the pay of underground train drivers.
132. Is there a drift from the teaching profession
to go to work on the tube?
(Dr Dunford) There is a drift from the teaching profession
to work in all sorts of other areas.
133. How many teachers have left teaching to
take a job as a train driver?
(Dr Dunford) I have not met one recently.
134. It would be interesting to find out, to
test the validity of your argument.
(Dr Dunford) No, I do not think that does because
I think there is a drift problem from teaching which has got to
be dealt with. But pay is just one way in which that is going
to be dealt with. What we have here is a specific part of the
pay structure which is clearly very dear to the Government in
some wayit may be that they are introducing it in education
and perhaps wanting to spread it to other parts of the public
serviceand we are saying, "You are introducing it
in a way which is not fair and is not workable."
135. Can you tell me any other group of managers
within the public sector or the private sector which immediately
threatens to go on strike when they are asked to make judgments
about the colleagues for whom they are responsible? Is there a
precedent anywhere else where this has happened?
(Mr Hart) I do not know if there is a precedent or
not but I am more interested in the fact that the Governmentand
I think for very good reasonshas set a great deal of store
by the structure for recruitment and retention purposes. If we
are going to recruit into the profession good young graduates
or returners or people coming into the graduate scheme, if we
are going to get them into the profession and stop those who are
leaving the profession from leaving, then we have got to have,
amongst other things, a pay structure which makes sense. I think
the pay structure makes sense, funnily enough, in the sense that
a good classroom teacher will move to £30,000-odd a year
over this period of time. But if the Government believesand
I agree with the Governmentthat this is a crucial part
of their recruitment and retention strategy, then it beggars belief
that it should, in the initial, vital first, say, four years,
so under-fund it that it is causing this deal of aggravation.
And I have to say that it does not matter whether you talk to
one of your innovative headsand there are plenty of those
aroundto one of your non-risk-taking heads, it does not
matter if you talk to a cracking good head or you talk to an average
head, the heads are united on this issue as they have never been
136. I think you are blurring the two issues
here. You are blurring the issue of the amount of money that ought
to be availableand we can all agree that there ought to
be more money available and of the need to safeguard retention:
to ensure recruitment is paramount and recruitment is increasingwith
the key issue of the head teacher's responsibility to manage within
the given allocation of resources. I put it to you that what is
different between the decisions that head teachers will be faced
with over the upper pay spine and the decisions which head teachers
were facing under the old system, where there were scale 2s and
3s and 4s, is that there was a fixed allocation of scale posts.
Within any given school there would be arguably a number of teachers
perfectly well qualified to take on the scale jobs and the head
teachers had to make that distinction. What is qualitatively different
from that old system to the system that we have at the moment,
I do not know.
(Dr Dunford) What is quite different is that under
that system the head had very often a difficult decision to make:
everybody understood there was one post going and there were four
or five people applying for it and only one person could get it.
That was understood. Under this system, there are criteria which
are set which you have to meet, and what people do not understand,
is why, if you meet those criteria, you are then not rewarded.
137. You are arguing that the criteria are absolutely
objective. I think the point we have to consider is whether any
criteria can be absolutely objective. If criteria were completely
objective then your head teachers would not have had to be spending
80 hours over the summer making judgments about passing the threshold
because it would have been self-evident who should pass the threshold.
Is it not the case that no criteria can be completely objective
and the exercise of judgment by the head teacher is what makes
(Mr Hart) But the funding of performance-related pay
schemes is the absolutely crucial aspect of delivering performance-related
Mr Chaytor: But no one disputes that.
138. Give David a chance, David.
(Mr Hart) It does not matter who you speak to. I have
spoken to hundreds and hundreds of heads in the last few weeks
and months, and they in turn have spoken to hundreds and hundreds
of chairs of governors, including chairs of governors who come
from the private sector, who come from organisations that run
performance-related pay schemes, and unanimously they say: "If
you are going to run a performance-related pay scheme that is
going to motivate, that is going to reward, that is rigorous,
that has difficult decisions within it, you have got to fund it
properly. If you do not fund it properly, it will fall into disrepute
and it will damage motivation." That is the crucial issue
we are debating with the Government, if you like.
139. In my own constituency in Huddersfield,
or in David's constituency, there is a very big difference in
terms of rigour of decision for managers. In the company that
employs my people in Huddersfield, the manager makes those decisions
on criteria, trying to be fair, assessing the quality of his workforce,
and the very big difference is that if they do not make a profit
at the end then somebody has to wait to get increased remuneration.
That is what my constituents perhaps do not understand, that there
is someonethem, because they pay your wageswho will
write a cheque on this basis: anyone you say gets through the
criteria will get that cheque when you want it. That is very different
from the private sector, where, if you are not making a profit,
you cannot pay the increases until the profit starts coming in.
I think that is what David is trying to probe.
(Mr Hart) But the payment of profit-related pay schemes,
even in the private sector, which is not necessarily profit related,
is based upon the achievement of certain targets.