What the teachers say

24th July 1998 at 01:00
This week the Government announced that it urgently wanted to encourage high-quality teacher recruitment and retention with a system of performance-related pay. It plans to put out a Green Paper on the subject in the autumn. Sarah Cassidy asks teachers what they think of the proposal.

Malcolm Mackintosh, head of maths at Ashton-on-Mersey High School, Sale, Cheshire, a successful secondary modern recently given beacon status, said: "Performance-related pay is not the right way to go. I have worked at this school for 30 years and the most important thing is for us to work as a team.

"It would be difficult to compare the results of teachers who taught top and bottom sets. As head of department I could timetable all the best sets for myself - but I would hardly deserve extra money just because the brightest kids in the school were getting good results.

"It will open up an enormous can of worms. How will you prove that standards have risen? There will be a lot of resentment and people attempting to cook the books by manipulating statistics in their favour.'' Dawn Reynolds, science teacher at Langley High School, Warley, West Midlands: "Performance-related pay is obviously going to come. That is the way the Government is thinking and I don't imagine they will change their minds.

"Providing it is introduced in a non-threatening way and not imposed on teachers I would not be opposed to it. It is something that we will just have to put up with.

"However it must contain some relationship to value-added so that teachers are rewarded for what they have actually achieved.

"Grammar schools take the cream of the academic crop while other schools have very nice but not so academically gifted pupils. Any performance related pay scheme needs to recognise the work that teachers do with pupils of all abilities."

Dan Curran, maths teacher at Kingston School, Kingston-upon-Hull: "Teachers' morale is very low and pay is a major issue in that. The problem with performance-related pay will be in finding criteria for measuring an individual's performance.

"We are an inner-city school and our GCSE results are fairly low compared to national norms. I wouldn't like to think that my pay was going to depend on how we did compared to those national figures.

"The idea of performance- related pay also implies that teachers are currently inefficient. That is definitely not the case. Most teachers work extremely hard but feel badly let down by the pay structure and the Pay Review Body. In an ideal world we would all be paid more, but we will have to look carefully at the detail of any proposals before rejecting or welcoming them."

Andrew Sibson, head of PE and PSE at Cavendish School, Eastbourne: "I am concerned about the criteria which could be used to measure performance. It sounds to me as if there will be a hierarchy of subjects, with extra money only attached to the core subjects.

"As a PE teacher, I am concerned that we will find ourselves lumped with the groundsmen on the periphery of education.

"There is also a danger that just because some things aren't easily measured they will be judged unimportant.

"Schools need to be reorganised so that the promotion of good teachers doesn't take them away from the children.

"There is a lot of money currently paid to those at the top of the school management tree. It could go to classroom teachers but making that sort of change would be very difficult."

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