Heads echo pay fear of teachers

5th March 1999 at 00:00
Union members denounce both the new salary structures and the review body's award. Frances Rafferty reports.

HEADTEACHERS and deputies are supporting their classroom colleagues by saying "No way, to performance-related pay", according to the leader of the largest teachers' union.

A survey of 974 heads and deputies who are members of the National Union of Teachers found that they were overwhelmingly opposed to linking pay to school performance.

One proposal in the Green Paper is that governing bodies will set school targets and use them as the basis for deciding how much pay the head is awarded. Of those surveyed, 76.4 per cent disagreed.

The Warwick University study found that heads were also unenthusiastic about fast-tracking - rapid promotion of high-flyers to headship - with 76.3 per cent opposed to it Longer-serving heads were found to be the most hostile.

They were more receptive to assessing the performance of all their staff (47.9 per cent in favour), but some did not want a link to pay.

Fixed-term contracts with additional pay for heads in tough schools were more appealing to recently-appointed heads, but overall 52.2 per cent were against the idea.

The last question concerned the notion that small schools could federate under the leadership of one head - 63.4 per cent were against with deputies seeing it depriving them of promotion opportunities.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary, said: "Heads and deputies have reacted in exactly the same way as their colleagues in the classroom to performance related pay. That is 'no way'. They value team work as much as classroom teachers and see division ahead."

Remarks, which were collated with the results by Sean O'Neil, of the Institute of Education at Warwick, included: "Margaret Thatcher would have loved this - payment by results."

One primary head said: "I welcome the opportunity for higher pay for some classroom teachers but would prefer not to be the person who decides which ones!

"I would like to see higher paid teachers work some additional hours as part of their contract."

However, some saw the changes as necessary: "I feel many of the changes suggested will benefit the teaching profession (and education) in the long term. We can't go on as we are - an underpaid, undervalued, undermined, overworked, largely demoralised group of people.

"I do place some of the blame on the prevailing dogma of the educational establishment of the past 30 years," said one primary deputy.

Another area of concern for many heads who wrote in to the researchers was the proposed increased involvement of governors.

Respondents thought that schools would find it difficult to recruit well-informed governors and they feared collusion.

"Who are these governors? We can't find enough with sufficient intelligence to comprehend the recent changes. My governors need spoon-feeding - by me," said one primary head.

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