Special Grant Report 106 (Teachers)

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Mr. Brady: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way again, and shall allow his voice a brief rest while I ask him a further question.

The Minister has confirmed that it is possible for the money to be held over from one year to the next.

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Will the Minister confirm that, if a school wished to hold back a certain sum for a longer period, to be used, for example, to reward a particular part of the leadership group, the Government's attitude would be permissive?

Mr. Twigg: I am very happy to be able to confirm that that would be the case. The purpose of the measure is not to stifle but to encourage flexibility, innovation and performance management at school level.

The hon. Members for Altrincham and Sale, West and for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) argued that the amounts will not cover all of a school's outgoings on performance-related payments. Pay progression for very large numbers of threshold teachersóI think the majority of themówill be covered. It is for schools to make a judgment on whether they want to enable additional teachers to be funded, but that would have to be at their expense. We have consistently made that clear. The Green Paper said that threshold payments would be fully funded, and we have kept to that. It was never suggested that there would be full funding for further performance-related pay measures. We gave a clear commitment to paying the threshold in full, which we have fulfilled.

I have been asked why the money is being paid via local education authorities rather than going directly to schools. That is simply a product of the way in which the Secretary of State's powers are defined. It is assumed that money for LEA-maintained schools goes via LEAs. In practice, that money is passported, which is widely accepted by LEAs and schools. The hon. Member for Newbury gave the parallel that the Treasury gives money directly to schools and asked why the Department for Education and Skills cannot do the same. In practice, direct grants from the Treasury are passported through LEAs in exactly the same way as we are proposing in this special grant report.

The hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West mentioned the new formula and the shortness of the consultation period. I have responded on the consultation period. Clearly, we need to listen to those who have continuing concerns. The measure is not set in stone, and if it does not work out we may have to return to it. We have deliberately chosen September as the time when the statistics for eligible teachers will be compiled. There was strong support for that during the re-consultation, especially from the two head teacher associations, the National Association of Head Teachers and the Secondary Heads Association. It enables us to minimise the bureaucratic effect on schools. At that time of year, schools will be conducting their pupil count, and we believe that the additional work load for head teachers in compiling the information should be no more than a 15-minute survey to be completed and returned to us.

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We have deliberately sought to minimise the measure's impact on the bureaucracy and work load in schools.

The hon. Gentlemen asked why only 60 per cent. of the leadership group is directly funded, and how the schools are to find the other 40 per cent. As is widely known, we had detailed discussions on that during the consultation process, which included the head teacher associations. Both the SHA and the NAHT expressed their satisfaction that the 60-40 split is fair and appropriate. It reflects the split in the previous leadership special grant that we introduced in 2000, which also existed on a 60 per cent. basis. It is worth pointing out that when performance-related pay for leadership positions in schools was introduced by the previous Conservative Government in 1991 for heads and deputies, there was no extra funding for it. It was not until 2000 that some form of extra funding was introduced. We are providing 60 per cent., whereas under a similar scheme the Conservative Government provided nothing at all.

I hope that I have responded to all the specific points that have been raised, but I suspect that the hon. Gentleman will disabuse me of that.

Mr. Brady: I certainly shall. Will the Minister comment on my point about the 0.15 per cent. shortfall in the formula for pension provision, and will he give a commitment that the increase in employers' national insurance contribution costs will be reflected in full in the formula for next year?

Mr. Twigg: I will have to consider that. Obviously, the plans have been devised on the basis of the money that we are in a position to spend on the scheme for the coming year. We must keep the matter under review. I reaffirmed the commitment given last year by the then Secretary of State for Education and Employment on the minimum budget for next year. After the spending review last week, we are considering the amounts of money that will be allocated to different budget heads in the Department. Clearly, that issue will have to be addressed as part of the process.

I believe that I have now responded to all the specific points that have been raised. This a positive report that enables us to take forward performance-related pay in schools. It provides welcome additional resources to enable schools to attract and keep the best teachers. On that basis, I commend it to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.


    That the Committee has considered the Local Government Finance (England) Special Grant Report (No. 106) (HC 1019) on Special Grants for Performance Pay Progression for Teachers on any Qualified Teacher Pay Scale, for Performance Pay Progression for Teachers on the Leadership Group Pay Spine, and for Threshold Payments for Teachers Employed by Local Authorities in Children's Homes.

Committee rose at seven minutes past Five o'clock.

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The following Members attended the Committee:
Gale, Mr. Roger (Chairman)
Brady Mr.
Brennan, Kevin
Buck, Ms
Cawsey, Mr.
Flook, Mr.
Harris, Mr. Tom

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Murphy, Mr. Jim
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Rendel, Mr.
Sawford, Phil
Soley, Mr.
Twigg, Mr. Stephen
Wood, Mr.

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