Pay divisions rub salt in the wound

18th December 1998 at 00:00
Frances Rafferty (TES 04-12-98) is right to point out that David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary, will have to fight selling performance-related pay to teachers.

He will lose the battle. Money is not the only issue. Teachers are bristling over the advanced skills (super) teacher adage.

Who wants to work in a school, where classroom teachers are either 'super' or 'ordinary'? Tell teachers that their colleagues are superior and you're asking for trouble. Paying them more, adds salt to the wound.

A better and a fairer way forward would be to give good classroom teachers an uncontroversial job title, like mentor, and then responsibility-related pay. Mr Blunkett might learn something from the Finnish experience.

Mentors in Finland are recruited from teachers who perform well in the classroom, who want to stay there, and who obtain promotion by demonstrating professional skills worthy of imitation.

Mentors work in so-called 'normal' schools (norm-setters for good practice), which form a bridge between the chalkface and the university campus. In them, mentors not only teach pupils, but also conduct research with university tutors into effective teaching.

Paul Stephens Associate Professor of Education Stavanger College Norway

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