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To improve is the true success

THE letter from Oxfordshire head teachers and governors (TES, December 24) made a number of points regarding performance-

related pay. In the same edition an article by Ruth Davies highlighted the political problems involved in introducing this system in Wales against the backdrop of the new devolved Welsh Assembly.

As the principal of an independent sixth-form college, The Cardiff Academy, I have been following these matters with interest and offer the following observations.

Outside of the educational press, most reporting of these issues has characterised the teaching profession as a "bunch of whingers" who are unwilling to accept a pay system now commonplace in business and industry. Likewise, the annual exercise in ritual humiliation of so-called "failing" schools no doubt makes good copy but adds to the picture of a profession in crisis.

The reasons why these opinions are both superficial and extremely damaging can be clearly seen in a city such as Cardiff which has schools with average 5 plus GCSE grades A*-C ranging from 9-95 per cent.

Any crude relationship between these raw percentages and performance will inevitably emphasise the achievement of those schools at te top of the table whilst ignoring, or vilifying, those at the bottom.

One only needs to compare the GCSE results obtained in any given year for a particular school with the previous three-year rolling average for the same school. In this way PRP becomes Improvement Related Pay (IRP).

From the Cardiff statistics one can see that many schools near the bottom of the A*-C and A*-G tables score very highly in the improvement stakes, and would therefore be rewarded through an IRP system.

In addition, it is noticeable that an incredible 70 per cent of Cardiff schools improved their A*-C average percentage in 1999, while for A*-G the figure was 73 per cent. This hardly suggests a profession which is failing pupils and parents, as is so often reported.

Union leaders, teaching professionals and the Welsh Assembly education committee have all expressed reservations about any form of PRP. If, as seems likely, this system is imposed upon Wales regardless of these concerns it will prove that this Labour administration is more concerned that democracy appears to be done than is seen to be done.

Dr SR Wilson


The Cardiff Academy

40-41 The Parade, Cardiff

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