Teaching union condemns performance-related pay proposals

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The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has described plans to pay teachers on results as “total nonsense”, following the release of a report by the House of Commons Education Committee that looked at methods of recruiting and retaining the best teachers.

The Education Committee’s report, “Great Teachers: attracting, training and retaining the best”, proposed a number of measures aimed at improving the quality of teacher staffing. These included giving sixth-formers the opportunity to “try out” teaching to determine their aptitude, as well as introducing stricter literacy and numeracy requirements for teaching staff and also ensuring that all teaching applicants are observed in the role before they are offered a place.

However, it was the report’s suggestion that teachers could be paid according to results that drew criticism from the NUT.

The report said: “There are, currently, huge differences in teacher performance in the UK; no longer should the weakest teachers be able to hide behind a rigid and unfair pay structure.

“We believe that performance-management systems should support and reward the strongest teachers, as well as make no excuses (or, worse, incentives to remain) for the weaker. Given the profound positive and negative impacts which teachers have on pupil performance, as demonstrated earlier in our report, we are concerned that the pay system continues to reward low-performers at the same levels as their more successful peers.

“We strongly recommend that the Department for Education seeks to quantify what scale of variation in teacher value added equates to in terms of children’s later prospects. We further recommend that the Department develops proposals (based on consultation and a close study of systems abroad) for a pay system which rewards those teachers who add the greatest value to pupil performance.”

In response, Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, said: “Payment by results is total nonsense. Children are not tins of beans and schools are not factory production lines. Successful schools rely on a collegiate approach and teamworking. Performance-related pay (PRP) is not only inappropriate but also divisive. Children and young people differ and class intakes differ from year to year making it impossible to measure progress in simplistic terms. PRP will create even more difficulties for schools facing the most challenges as teachers will realise that they will get no thanks for teaching their students but will get more money by going elsewhere.

“Teaching is becoming increasingly less attractive as a profession for graduates to choose to enter and for those already in it. Unless the Government addresses the issue of pay and pensions as well as a punishingly high workload and accountability system, no amount of ‘marketing’ will convince graduates that teaching is an attractive career.”

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