Tale of two teachers;Letter

29th October 1999 at 01:00
I HAVE read the articles about the teachers' pay deal with great interest. In particular I have enjoyed comment on the idea of teachers' performance related pay. Unfortunately no one has suggested how this would work. I would like to highlight the difficulties.

Teacher A works in an inner city school and has the modern studies Foundation-General Standard grade class. A number of these pupils have behavioural and learning difficulties and many of them are not good attenders. Their expectations may not be high and many would rather not be in school. They get very little encouragement at home.

Some of their parents have never attended a parents' night and are only seen in school when their child is in trouble. Teacher A gets on well with the class, spends much time preparing differentiated work and by a mixture of good humour, knowledge of the local football team and favourite pop groups gets the class to work well.

At the end of fourth year most achieve grade 6 or 5, six of the class achieve grade 4 and three of the class achieve grade 3. These results are not outstanding, but for the ability and expectations of the class they are excellent. Their parents are pleased.

Teacher B works in a pleasant school in a leafy suburb of a large city and has the top modern studies Higher class. The majority of these pupils are expecting to go to university. They are encouraged by their parents to work hard at school and at home they have access to a wide variety of books, newspapers such as the Scotsman and computers, often with Internet access.

Their parents have been at every parents' night, may be members of the Parent Teacher Association and work to raise funds for the school. Teacher B gets on well with the class who always hand in their word processed essays days before they are due in. When asking for information to be brought to school about human rights in China the teacher is flooded with paper cuttings and pages downloaded from the internet.

The class achieve mainly B passes, eight pupils achieve A passes and two achieve C passes. All the class gain their Higher modern studies. Six parents are not pleased as they thought their children were capable of achieving better passes than they did.

Which of these teachers should get more pay if they are being paid by performance related criteria? I have worked in a variety of schools in my 25 years as a teacher and principal teacher. I know which teacher I would pay more.

Graham Smith Principal teacher of modern studies Braeview Academy, Dundee

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