Performance-related pay won't work, minister told

Written by: HTU | Published:

Education secretary Michael Gove has set himself on a collision course with teachers after asking the teachers' pay body to back a move to performance-related pay.

Education secretary Michael Gove has set himself on a collision course with teachers after asking the teachers' pay body to back a move to performance-related pay.

Unions argue that it is simply too difficult to devise a fair system to link individual pupil achievements to teacher performance and that the current arrangements already give enough flexibility to reward good performance.

Mr Gove's stance has also clashed with the OECD. A briefing this week from the global research organisation emphasised the lack of any international evidence showing links between student performance and performance-based pay.

The School Teachers' Review Body (STRB), which covers England and Wales, has been asked by the Department for Education to look at “reducing rigidity" within the pay system. It is due to report on September 28 and its remit includes making recommendations on linking pay to performance and introducing regionalised pay – linking pay to local private sector rates instead of a national standardised pay scale.

In his formal evidence to the review, published this week, Mr Gove argues that pay arrangements should reward good performance in the classroom and says that this will attract the “highest performing graduates and professionals" into teaching.He also said the pay system should “ensure the best teachers are incentivised to work in the most challenging schools".

His evidence states: “Reform of the current pay system for teachers is fundamental to driving up teacher quality. The current pay system is rigid, complex and difficult to navigate and does not support schools to recruit and retain the high-quality teachers or leaders they need to address specific shortages and benefit their pupils."However, Mr Gove's evidence came as an OECD briefing said that international evidence shows “no relationship between average student performance in a country and the use of performance-based pay schemes".

It states: “Countries that have succeeded in making teaching an attractive profession have often done so not just through pay, but by raising the status of teaching, offering real career prospects and give teachers responsibility as professionals and leaders of reform."

Despite this, Mr Gove wants the STRB to consider options including a complete deregulation of national pay arrangements or a framework with minimum and maximum pay levels. He also says that local pay zones should be explored.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “The range and complexity of factors influencing how well pupils do at school make it far too difficult to devise a fair system to link an individual teachers' performance to a pupil's achievements, not least because so much teaching is based on teamwork."

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, added: “Let's be clear about one thing, teachers are already subject to performance-related pay. Progression up the teachers' pay spine depends on a successful performance management review, and we agree with Michael Gove that this should remain."

Plans for regionalised pay could see teacher salaries in some areas of the UK drop by up to 18 per cent as they would fall into line with local private sector rates. Mr Lightman continued: “There is no evidence that a regional pay structure would improve standards in education."

Any recommendations from the STRB could be taken forward in time for September 2013.

You can download the OECD briefing note online.

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