Pupils' results have direct impact on teachers' pay

Performance targets are causing `substantial inequality' across schools

Irena Barker

The pay progression of about one in 10 teachers on the upper scale is dependent on their pupils' performance in tests, a survey has found.

The National Union of Teachers, which conducted the poll, said the results were evidence of "substantial inequality" across schools on pay for experienced teachers.

This month most teachers will have their first review under the new performance management regulations, which started last October.

The poll also revealed that 38 per cent of primary teachers had been set goals based on the number of pupils achieving a certain level in national tests. In secondaries, nearly 60 per cent had been set targets based on the numbers achieving a certain number of grades.

But around two-thirds of teachers overall thought it was "unfair" to measure performance on test scores. Many said results were no longer reliable, following this summer's Sats marking fiasco. There were also concerns that much of a pupils' performance may be out of the teacher's control.

"Some children make excellent progress one year, then less another; nothing to do with teaching. It can be due to a variety of reasons," one teacher said.

"Cohorts change rapidly in our school, with pupils arrivingleaving regularly. It's very difficult to predict end-of-year results," another said.

Despite the majority of teachers showing reluctance to be judged on results, the concept received support from just under a third of secondary teachers. Many said it was acceptable if targets were set with teachers and pupils' circumstances were taken into account.

Although between 80 and 90 per cent of teachers in primary, secondary and special schools agreed with the objectives in their current performance review, a minority were unhappy with the process.

"I didn't feel it was a genuine attempt at supporting me," one said. "Needed to be done; box ticked."

Christine Blower, of the NUT, said: "It is quite apparent that setting specific targets for the percentage of pupils achieving grades in national tests . is manifestly unfair."

Mick Brookes, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said pupil progress should be "an element of the performance management dialogue". "It's quite justifiable," he said, "but you cannot have a measure that's based on a single snapshot of performance."

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Irena Barker

Irena Barker is a freelance journalist.

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