Top teachers' bonus scheme cuts to leave thousands out of pocket

THOUSANDS of teachers will miss out on performance pay bonuses, after the Gillard government today announces it will slash $200 million from its budget commitment to reward top teachers.

Under sweeping changes, the scheme's funding will be almost halved over four years and bonuses will be linked to new national teaching standards.

In the May budget, the government pledged $425 million over four years to pay the top 10 per cent of teachers bonuses of up to $8100 from 2014.

The scheme was criticised on the grounds it had not worked overseas, would undermine teamwork in schools and was inconsistent with new national teacher standards that would create the opportunity for enhanced career and salary structures.

The Education Minister, Peter Garrett, will today announce the bonus scheme will be cut to $225 million over the four years to 2014-2015.

Funding will be available to about 8000 teachers in 2014, but they will receive the payments only if they are accredited as highly accomplished or lead teachers under the new national standards, which are yet to be rolled out.

Mr Garrett said the saving ''gives us the opportunity to help bring the budget back into surplus''.

The changes to the reward payments scheme come a week after the Productivity Commission said it should be deferred, warning experiments with bonus pay in the US had produced mixed results.

Earlier this month the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, recommitted the government to cutting spending to return the budget to surplus. This year's deficit is projected to be $23 billion.