Base salaries on talent not time, says MP

10th April 1998 at 01:00
Teachers' pay should be based on classroom performance and inspection findings, according to Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the House of Commons education select committee.

But her advocacy of performance-related pay looks unlikely to find much favour with teachers gathering for their annual union conferences this weekend.

Mrs Hodge told primary school heads that current pay scales reward time-servers and administration rather than good teaching, and that changing the system would help attract recruits to the profession.

"If teaching is to be seen as a top-class profession, it must look like one," she said.

"I would like to see all teachers paid according to their performance, not according to length of service. Annual increments could be replaced by increases based on annual appraisal, inspection findings and pupils' improvement."

Speaking at last week's National Primary Congress in Oxford, she said teachers working in "difficult" schools were "bound to do better" under such a scheme than colleagues at traditionally high-performing schools.

"Good teachers deserve to be fully rewarded for their work. There is no logical reason why a young teacher who performs better than a more experienced colleague should be paid less," she added.

She also called for fast-track entry schemes for the best graduates, and for new teachers' student loans to be paid off by the Government on a sliding scale according to length of service.

Both the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers condemned Mrs Hodge's suggestions as divisive and interfering.

But other speakers at the Oxford conference came up with more welcome predictions about the future of teaching and teachers' pay in the next millennium.

Birmingham chief education officer Tim Brighouse claimed there will be fewer teachers, paid twice as much, supported by a range of well-trained helpers and specialists.

Education for citizenship should span home, school and community and entitle each child to a set of accomplishments and experiences, beginning at birth.

David Winkley, director of the National Primary Trust, saw a future where teachers have more involvement with other professionals, including business colleagues. He organised the congress with the aim of establishing a network of innovative primary schools to help advance thinking about 21st century education.

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