There's no real merit at play

3rd October 2003 at 01:00
I am one of the 10 per cent of teachers who was refused the upper pay spine 2 payment. I therefore feel qualified to comment on performance-related pay and its ability to "motivate" teachers.

In my school, 15 teachers were refused UPS2. Eight of us went to appeal and we were refused again. We were told that money was not the reason, but the head waited until March 2003, when the amount of money available was known, to make a decision.

In most schools it was easy to obtain UPS2, but in ours it was not.

The whole business becomes more farcical when you realise that I, despite not having a single absence throughout the year, failed the award, while it was given to a colleague in another school who was off sick on stress leave for the entire year.

I am sympathetic to teachers who are made ill by their job, but this sort of thing nevertheless makes people cynical about performance-related pay.

As far as I can see, it is a postcode lottery and grossly unfair, particularly as it may have a knock-on effect on pensions.

The comment made by a school bursar - to the effect that UPS2 should be more difficult than threshold, and UPS3, in its turn, should be more difficult than UPS2 - is ridiculous (TES, September 19). There is a limit to the concept of continuous improvement. I know that I already work as hard as I can.

As far as I can see, teachers are the only group of people who are effectively punished by a "merit" system over which they have very little control.

This year, I obtained 100 per cent A*-C at GCSE and 50 per cent A* or A grade. However, during the year in which I was assessed I had all the worst villains in the school, some of whom were absent 90 per cent of the time, with the result that a small number of pupils did not produce any coursework and therefore failed.

My school makes no allowance for any of the circumstances over which teachers have no control. If a pupil is absent, we are told that this is simply a teacher excuse for failure.

My school now has specialist status. This year I have 171 GCSE candidates in Years 10 and 11 and my workload has more than doubled. I think I can say goodbye to UPS2 because there are bound to be pupils who do not produce coursework whatever I do.

If I had been given UPS2 I would not have been motivated by this as I would have regarded it as my just due. However, the fact that I have been refused it has significantly demotivated me and made me feel like quitting the profession. Well done Labour government.

Name amp; address supplied

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