Students put off by pay reform

25th August 2000 at 01:00
THE INTRODUCTION of performance pay could deter graduates from entering the teaching profession, new research has concluded.

A survey of undergraduates at the University of York found that performance pay was viewed the least favourably of any of the Government's recent or proposed reforms.

Only 27 per cent of 129 students who were considering a teaching career said that the launch of the new salary system would encourage them to join the profession.

Some 29 per cent said performance pay would put them off teaching. It was the only one of 13 reforms the students disliked.

By contrast, 68 per cent of students said that Government efforts to boost the funding of schools would encourage them to teach.

The findings come as the National Association of Head Teachers told the Government's pay advisers to hold steady on performance pay.

It told the School Teachers' Review Body - which is consulting on the threshold standards following the High Court ruling that they had been introduced unlawfully - that members would brook no changes that forced them to start the process of vetting applications again.

And it urged the review body to reject calls for an appeals process for teachers rejected for the pound;2,000-a-year pay rise.

Governors or local authorities who might hear an appeal were in no position to question the professional judgment of the head, the association said.

Dr Chris Kyriacou, a reader in educational pyschology at York who led the research, said: "A lot of the students are expressing misgivings about teaching being an activity where you can measure how one person's performance can improve a pupil's exam results.

"What the survey showed up most strongly was that undergraduates want a pleasant working environment.

"The Government has to recognise that if it continues its drive to raise standards ... it will fail because good graduates will be put off joining the profession."

Asked to rate the aspects of a job that were most important to them, personal enjoyment, getting along with one's colleagues and intellectual challenge topped the students' list.

Only 13 per cent said they were impressed by ministers' commitment to education, against 36 per cent who were put off, while only 11 per cent were happy with the level of autonomy afforded to teachers.

Forty-six per cent said that teachers were generally respected by society.

The study is published in the latest edition of the Journal of Education for Teaching.

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