'We all deserve pay rise';Letter

5th March 1999 at 00:00
WE ARE teachers in a west London inner city school, predominately young, accustomed to change and open-minded about ways of improving the profession.

We work with a school population characterised by a high percentage of non-English speakers, with a large number of special needs children and with children with a high-level of mobility. Our commitment and high expectations of children were acknowledged in our recent Office for Standards in Education inspection, and our success was achieved largely through team effort.

We have serious concerns about the Green Paper and consider that performance-related pay is a dubious concept. Its application to teachers' pay is completely inappropriate. In particular, we note:

* As the Green Paper words it (para 82) "systems of performance-related pay can become bogged down in bureaucracy". The paper elsewhere speaks about freeing teachers from bureaucracy, but this process will put an extraordinary, unacceptable, burden upon school management.

* While the paper envisages (para 84) the majority of teachers being of a standard to "cross the threshold", the likelihood of sufficient funds being available for this seems slight, and the prospect of a rationing and selection strong.

* For teachers stretched to the limit in terms of workload, the idea of "crossing the threshold" to a level where (para 85) "much more time and commitment is demanded", seems derisory. We cannot accept the implied suggestion that our present level of commitment is less than 100 per cent.

"Comparison with national standards" (para 86) in the assessment process, is bound to discriminate against teachers in a school like ours, whatever our professional commitment. There appears to be no mention of assessment of added value.

The fast-track concept is likely to divide and disunite a staff like ours, whose success against the odds has depended to such a high degree upon teamwork. We are vehemently opposed to any pay awards based on performance. Moreover, we feel that we are entitled to a pay award that reflects our present workload and commitment, and it should be paid equally to all teachers.

18 members of Avondale Park primary school's staff, Sirdar Road, Notting Hill, London W11.

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