Welsh clash over exam-linked pay;News

24th December 1999 at 00:00
Politicians in the assembly are at a stand-off over whether pay should be linked to exam results, writes Ruth Davies.

WELSH SCHOOLS secretary Rosemary Butler and the National Assembly for Wales' pre-16 education committee are heading for a show-down over performance related pay for teachers.

Mrs Butler, the assembly's education secretary, is in favour of using exam results to reward teachers for their achievement in the classroom.

However, the pre-16 education committee once again threw out the proposals at its final meeting of the assembly session.

Mrs Butler favours linking performance to the exam results of pupils, although she has insisted there will be no "crude system of payment by exam results". She wants a system which takes account of teachers' achievements in the context of the school and the pupils' background.

Her problem lies in the political make-up of the pre-16 education committee, which has just four Labour members and six opposition members, reflecting the minority Labour assembly government.

At the committee's last meeting of the assembly session, Mrs Butler heard concerns raised by members on pay linked to exam results, and on plans for independent assessors, under the control of the Department for Education, rather than the assembly.

Committee chairman, Conservative William Graham, said: "The committee is adamant we do not wish to see teachers' pay linked to a league table of exam results. It must be looked at in the round and linked to a proper and recognised assessment of pupil attainment and school attainment as well."

He said the committee also wanted headteachers and heads of department to have more input on assessment, and opposed money being spent on external assessors. It hopes one of the existing assembly bodies can do it, although the obvious contender, Estyn, the schools' inspection body, is apparently not keen because of a potential conflict.

Mrs Butler must now go back to the committee in January with revised recommendations. The teaching unions welcomed the fact that the committee had not backed down in the face of government pressure.

Secretary of the National Union of Teachers in Wales, Gethin Lewis, said: "It is for the committee to devise a performance management system which is seen by the profession as transparent and fair. The professional development of teachers must be a policy that stands on its own, and not introduced due to a proposed link to pay."

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers in Wales regional officer Geraint Davies added: "A teacher should be judged on what they do in front of a class in terms of preparation, discipline, marking and their contribution to the school, not on pupil output."

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