The "something-for-something" deal David Blunkett is offering on teachers' pay has so far left open the question of "what for what?" But this week it won at least a partial vote of approval from the profession. The National Union of Teachers' timely survey (page 3) shows that the vast majority of teachers are in favour of salary restructuring. They are particularly positive about rewards for improving their own abilities and competence.
But less than 30 per cent apparently want pay related to "performance". Teachers are only too aware that academic achievement is more of an uphill struggle for some pupils than others. Research and Office for Standards in Education findings also confirm fears that not all heads make sound judgments about the merits of their staff.
The Education Secretary has ruled out crude "payment by results". But if he wants to reward those who really make a difference, the forthcoming Green Paper will need to be explicit about how any new structure might take account of the different challenges posed by different pupils, and ensure that teachers' targets are fair, realistic and objective.