The proposed salary reductions are now being reviewed The English Schools Foundation was forced to back down over its controversial pay cuts last night after more than 250 teachers protested outside its headquarters during its annual general meeting. After a lengthy argument with teachers' representatives, ESF chairman Jal Shroff said last month's decision by the body's executive council to cut salaries by up to 10 per cent would be reviewed. The cut had been recommended by a pay review body. 'We have taken staff views into account and will look again at the figures,' he said after the meeting. 'The decision is at present fluid.' He later said he hoped a final decision could be reached by Lunar New Year. During the meeting, Tony Flynn, a Sha Tin College teacher, was one of many to argue against the cuts. 'The whole process has been done in a rushed, insensitive way. Most teachers feel disenfranchised and let down by management.' Mr Flynn said there was no valid reason for a pay cut, given the economic recovery. He added that overseas staff were already earning less because of foreign exchange fluctuations and ESF staff were now not paid much more than counterparts in Britain. 'If you disenfranchise them, upset them and eradicate good will, the consequences will be enormous,' he added. The foundation would then fail to recruit high-quality staff, he warned. Several principals also expressed concern. John Wray, head of South Island School, said: 'It would certainly have an effect on recruitment. I am not sure about retention, but it is already affecting deeply the morale of my staff. But the ESF's acting chief executive, John Bohan, urged staff to accept the cut, to be phased in over several contracts. It would seem 'self-serving' if the ESF did not follow trends in other sectors in reducing pay, he said. 'Reputations are at stake: the schools' and the foundation's itself, but also teachers' reputations,' he said. 'Cool heads, wise judgment and measured responses are needed if teachers wish to retain their present status and esteem in the community,' he said. 'We need to note the views of external critics. They see an organisation which accepted the benefit of increases in [pay scales]. However, when the adjustment was downward, ESF failed to follow.'