Labour has vowed to continue the policy of linking teachers’ pay to performance should it form the next government.
As of this month, every school is expected to tie any increases in teachers' pay to their performance in the classroom, a move that has been widely condemned by classroom unions.
But any hopes that a future Labour government will abolish the policy are likely to be dashed after the shadow schools minister Kevin Brennan said that although the current system was damaging the profession, his party would not dismiss the pay method out of hand.
Speaking at a joint NUT and Association of Teachers and Lecturers fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in Manchester, Mr Brennan said that schools had always used performance-related pay in schools.
“There’s always been an element of performance-related pay, there’s nothing new about it and one of the great dilemmas was always how do we reward great teachers and keep them in the classroom rather than them going into management,” he said. “So I wouldn’t say ‘Performance-related pay: no, under any circumstances.’
“But if you get a system that is demotivating for teachers not just as a profession but as individuals – where you have to collaborate and work together – if that is the outcome of a system of performance-related pay then obviously that is not a benefit to the education system overall.”
Mr Brennan said he understood the “dangers” of the current system and that too many classroom teachers were being left demoralised by it. But he added: “I am not going to say that I will not under any circumstances rule out trying to reward teachers for the performance in their classroom.”
Earlier in the meeting, Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said there was “absolutely no evidence” that linking teachers’ pay to performance helped to raise student outcomes and she warned that the current system would lead to scores of appeals from teachers over their salary increases.
“The fact of the matter is, and we all know that there are no commitments to increase spending and you believe the government’s spin that this about paying good teachers more, axiomatically it is paying, probably, the majority of teachers less,” Ms Blower said.
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