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'Merit pay failed in colleges';FE Focus

MERIT pay plans for schools have already failed in colleges and universities, say leaders of the biggest lecturers' union, writes Ian Nash.

A NATFHE analysis of universities which introduced various performance-related pay schemes suggests that false claims have been made about their effectiveness and that virtually all were abandoned.

In the "old" universities, schemes were introduced largely in the form of discretionary pay. Few of the "new" universities could be persuaded to do so after the failure of early schemes.

Far from improving motivation, the report says, "PRP lowers morale, creates suspicion and actively undermines teamworking and collegiality."

"In practice the schemes have become a dead letter, with funding being quietly reabsorbed into mainstream grant or, in practice, being used for non-PRP purposes, such as promotion, or allocated equally to all staff."

In its response to the Government Green Paper: Teachers: Meeting the Challenge of Change, the union argues that unlike promotion, where criteria were open, PRP decisions were "highly managerial and often shrouded in secrecy".

Echoing London School of Economics research into PRP, NATFHE says that reported gains in productivity seemed to stem from improved target-setting rather than from links between pay and performance.

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