Ministers' merit pay plan raises teacher hackles

GOVERNMENT plans to impose a performance-related pay system on the whole teaching profession have provoked fierce grassroots opposition.

Classroom teachers across the country contacted The TES to express their anger at the proposal outlined in the Education Secretary's submission to the School Teachers' Review Body.

Estelle Morris believes performance pay should be extended to an extra 200,000 staff, with only the very best teachers reaching the top of the pay spine.

However, unions, governors and teachers believe the proposal is unworkable. They say it would lead to a mass exit from the profession.

Dozens of readers responded to a discussion of the subject on The TES's website this week. Every contributor opposed the idea.

Jeannine Bromley-Hall, from Mansfield, says: "How on earth does the Government expect to recruit and retain teachers when they are planning a pay scheme better suited to the production line?

"Teachers are not motivated by incentive schemes; they are motivated by seeing young people take the small steps that make the big differences in their lives."

The chief objection was the difficulty of measuring a teacher's performance.

"There are too many variables outside of the classroom teacher's control - attendance, family problems and special educational needs provision, just to name a few," said R Huggins, from Doncaster.

Anne Leyland, from Market Harborough, Lincolnshire, added: "Even more teachers will be looking for a way out of teaching if this goes through. It just says yet again that the Government can't trust us as professionals."

More than one contributor invited Ms Morris to test out the idea on herself and her colleagues.

Jennifer Conway, from Glasgow, said: "If this nonsensical suggestion is serious, I suggest that we put politicians on performance pay too."

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said the union would be attacking the proposal in its evidence to the review body. "It is no surprise that teachers have expressed strong opposition to this idea. We do not need further hurdles that will make it more difficult to recruit and even harder to retain the teachers we have got," he said.

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