Gove bid to link performance to pay angers unions and irritates sceptics

19th November 2010 at 00:00
The Department for Education's business plan could drive a coach and horses through teachers' working conditions

The Westminster Government is paving the way to link teachers' salaries to their performance in the classroom, experts warned last week.

On Monday, the Department for Education unveiled its business plan for the next four years, which included plans to "revise teacher performance management regulations".

The document also included extremely controversial proposals to publish teachers' pay, qualifications and sick-leave records on a school-by-school basis so they can be included in league tables.

But it is the move to change teachers' performance management regime that could prove most controversial, as it coincides with Education Secretary Michael Gove's plans to rethink teachers' pay and conditions.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of heads' union the NAHT, questioned whether linking teachers' salaries to performance would work.

"I have no problem with performance-related pay, but there is little evidence to show it raises standards when used in education; every piece of evidence to come out of the US is quite confident in that respect," he said.

"I think people are more interested in having under-performance tackled rather than being rewarded for good performance," Mr Hobby added.

However, Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the reforms would make little difference, arguing that performance-related pay has always existed.

"What the Government is trying to do here is simplify it," Mr Lightman said. "At the moment the pay system is very confusing for teachers and for heads and the department intends to rectify that."

The move came as the DfE revealed plans to publish teachers' salaries, qualifications and absence records at every school across the country as part of its policy to make central government more transparent and to move power away from Whitehall.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the proposals demonstrated the "deep-rooted contempt this coalition government has for teachers".

She added: "The negative attitudes which are clearly underpinning this proposal will leave a nasty taste in the mouth of a hard-working and dedicated profession.

"To focus on sickness absence in this way merely gives the green light to employers to harass and pressurise sick teachers back into work or force them out of the profession."

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