Letters Extra: Performance pay - the way forward

I think most teachers have now accepted the benefits of performance pay as a way to regenerate a stagnant pay structure. This is especially true for the experienced teachers who have built up considerable expertise over the years and demonstrated a loyalty to a profession that has considerable difficulty recruiting and retaining its members. In spite of this, many teachers, myself included, have not had a promotional pay increase for several years. (Twenty-one in my case!) This was not due to any incompetence, merely that the pay structure in place did not allow for those in primary education who did not want the dubious pleasure of running their own schools, to advance further along the pay scale.

So a big thank you to Ms Morris and her predecessors for allowing us more mature members of the profession to have some motivational movement in pay. What I have some reservations about however is some of the criteria that the she plans to use in order to deliver these payments. It appears that examination results are to be one of the major cornerstones in her new policy. This, certainly in primary education, is a convenient, but highly inaccurate reflection of the effectiveness of a school. Do we really want to produce a nation of "pasty-faced geeks" who can jump through hoops? Because that is the reality of Key Stage 2 SATs in this country. It also instigates an atmosphere of fear amongst teachers as they hope for improvement on last year's results and a subsequent elevation in the league tables.

When you know you have made a positive difference to a class, that is the criteria on which payment should be judged. Sometimes getting a child to a level 3 is a tremendous achievement, yet in the world of Estelle Morris, it is a failure and your salary should reflect that failure. Examination results may be the simplest way of measuring success, but it is also the most inaccurate and misleading.

Steve Devrell, Solihull, West Midlands

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