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“Teachers Should Receive Performance-Related Pay” – Education Select Committee
The Commons Education Select Committee published a report today saying that teaching staff should be rewarded for "adding the greatest value" to students’ education, quoting international research showing the difference in future earnings for students taught by merely average teachers and those taught by the worst.
According to that research, the difference in lifetime earnings would be equivalent to £250,000, considerably more than the hundred-thousand-pound figure quoted by Universities minister David Willetts, when he compared the lifetime earnings of those with a degree to the earnings of those without one.
But teachers are already receiving performance-related pay: outside London the standard salary of up to £31,000 can rise to as much as £34,200 once a classroom teacher performs well enough to pass the "threshold" into the upper pay scale.
According to Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw, over 90% of teachers are allowed to pass that threshold - and that proportion is too high.
Sir Michael says: “The thing that irritates good teachers, people who work hard and go the extra mile, is seeing the people that don't do that being rewarded."
The Select Committee did admit to "political and practical difficulties" with a results-based payment system but believes those difficulties "must be overcome" because of the comparative impact of outstanding teachers.
National Union of Teachers General Secretary, Christine Blower disagrees, saying: “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 team working. Performance-related pay 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.”
She adds that it would “create even more difficulties for schools facing the most challenges because teachers will realise that they will get no thanks for teaching their students but will get more money by going elsewhere”.
There are other issues: a pupil's performance in one subject can often depend on how well other subjects are taught: physics, for example, requires a good knowledge of mathematics.
In theory, rewarding the best teachers is an idea with merit. In practice, though, establishing the criteria for identifying the best teachers is going to be difficult: should it be a matter of perspiration in the form of meticulously-prepared lessons leading to excellent exam results ...
… or inspiration – as in free-form lessons inspiring a thirst for further knowledge?