Thursday, 24 January 2013

Does performance-related pay equal better teachers?

How opinions are split over the new pay structures set for September 2013

From September 2013, head teachers across England will have the power to give their staff a pay rise according to their perceived performance against targets.

Changes to teachers payOffering children the best education possible is what teachers, parents and the Government all want but will performance based pay incentives mean a higher standard of teaching?

Some academy schools in England already have the power to pay according to performance. Proponents of the new scheme suggest that it should be the case that teachers are rewarded for their effort and achievements even if this does mean that not all will see their pay rise year-on-year.

According to the Principal at an Academy in Hackney, “it’s become the norm that teachers move from the main pay scale to the upper pay scale. And it has now become an expectation rather than a reward for the performance of a teacher.”

The move proposed by Michael Gove is set to tear up the current national pay structure, replacing it with a performance-related pay system.

What will performance-related pay mean for teachers?

Today, almost all newly qualified teachers see their pay increased by around £2,000 per year. A newly qualified teacher outside of London, who earns just over £21,000, typically sees their salary rise to £31,500 after 5 years of teaching, under the current pay legislation. However, from September pay will be linked to their performance.

The Independent School Teachers Review Body (STRB) was tasked by Michael Gove, who has long been a supporter of a performance based pay structure, to examine the issue of pay in education.

The Department for Education (DfE) says performance-related pay would reward good teachers and it would help schools in disadvantaged areas to attract and retain the best teachers. However, teaching union members are not as positive about the new proposals. According to union representatives there is no evidence that performance-related pay raises standards and they also argue that it further reduces morale amongst teachers.

Opponents to the scheme, many of which are teachers themselves believe that the move will put additional pressure on teachers to hit academic targets, ensuring all of their students achieve the grades required for them to secure a rise in their pay. This will mean students are driven towards academic achievement, at the risk of not being taught the softer skills that UK employers are crying out for, such as communication and professionalism. The issue for school leavers is that many will leave the classroom with the necessary grades but will not offer employers the full skill set that is needed to achieve in the workplace.

Strike action over performance related payLinking pay to performance could see teachers resorting to strike action in the coming months, but the union for head teachers appear to be broadly supportive of the idea, although it accepts that there will be winners and losers once the new pay scheme comes into force.

The debate around pay and performance is one that places further strain on the Government’s relationship with teachers and teaching unions. Yet one thing is clear, parents will remain of the opinion that their children’s interests should be put first and a solution should be met that safeguards the best interests for their future.

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