Unions oppose salaries being linked to pupil performance - but some more than others, reports Frances Rafferty.
TEACHERS' opposition to linking their pay to pupils' results is fast emerging as the biggest stumbling-block facing the Government's proposals to introduce performance-related pay.
Ministers have declared this a non-negotiable part of the consultation of the education Green Paper. A Government spokeswoman said each teacher should have at least one of their appraisal objectives linked to their pupils' performance.
Two teachers' union polls published this week show teachers are wary of many of the proposed changes to their pay structure. But the unions' reactions to the consultation vary.
The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers is emphasising a constructive dialogue with ministers. Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary, said that his members were open to new ideas and sensible reform.
The NASUWT poll, carried out by NOP, showed 57 per cent of teachers agreed with relating appraisal to a teacher's knowledge, skill, ability and effort. But only 17 per cent supported a link to pupil progress. Testing for trainee teachers in literacy, numeracy and information technology was supported by 76 per cent, but 54 per cent opposed fast-track teachers, 76 per cent were against whole-school bonuses and 57 per cent disagreed with governing bodies having a greater role in determining pay.
The major sticking points for the NASUWT leadership are the link between pay and pupil progress and teachers having to sign a different contract when they pass the performance threshold.
The ORC International poll for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers makes depressing reading for ministers. When asked if the teaching profession is becoming more attractive to enter, only 4 per cent agreed. Almost half (46 per cent) thought the Government's policies generally were moving in the right direction, but only 17 per cent were satisfied with its educational policies.
Only one in five classroom teachers accepts pay should be related to good performance - and the same number do not believe the pay changes will lead to improved standards.
Peter Smith, the ATL's general secretary, does not agree with the National Union of Teachers' threats of direct action.
He said: "A key issue for Blair and Blunkett is whether individual greed will override the collegiality of staff in schools. Who will be the first teacher to say 'I am going to apply for 10 per cent more than the rest of my colleagues?'" Both polls showed younger teachers to be more receptive to performance-related pay and fast-tracking. There was also agreement for other proposals in the Green Paper, including the tests for trainee teachers, the headship training schemes and extra classroom support.
David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said his members would be ready, willing and able to implement many of the Green Paper's proposals, if more money was made available to help them do so - and if the Government delays its new appraisal scheme for a year.
He described headteachers as the linchpin of the Government's plans. He calculated that annual appraisal in a school with 140 teachers would take up 50 days.
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