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Beacon school dulled by PRP

SYDENHAM School was recently awarded Beacon status and we believe that the success of this inner-London comprehensive is overwhelmingly due to two factors - we have a comprehensive intake and the staff work as a team.

The proposed Green Paper on performance-related pay threatens to undermine much that has worked well in our school.

All teachers know the importance of teamwork; of sharing ideas and good practice; of sharing out difficult pupils; of coordinating between academic and pastoral teams to support learning.

Performance-related pay threatens all this. It will divide teachers and lead to a culture of individualism. All pupils deserve to be taught by well-paid, well-motivated staff. PRP will instead demoralise most teachers.

Pay linked to the achievement of targets will result in further teacher recruitment and retention problems. Teachers will move away from schools where targets are harder to achieve leaving such schools staffed by newly-qualified teachers and temporary staff.

The Green Paper is also flawed in that it promotes the view that teacher competence is the main concern facing schoos. The actual main concern facing most schools, particularly in the inner-cities where levels of wealth and poverty are more polarised, is lack of a comprehensive intake.

In many so called "failing schools" it is not the teachers who are failing. It is pupils who are being failed by a system which allows schools to take their pick of children from more privileged backgrounds. This creates "sink" schools where the pupils are predominantly from families which have to battle constantly against the pressures of poverty.

We know that many pupils from such backgrounds do well in schools such as ours where we have a lower proportion and therefore have more time and energy to spend on them than do colleagues at other schools.

It is the failure of the system to provide truly comprehensive schools that lies behind the failure of many pupils.

Performance-related pay will further undermine comprehensive education and threatens to tear apart teamwork. Ministers should think again.

Daphne Such

Headteacher

Plus 62 teachers and

governors

Sydenham School

Dartmouth Road

London

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