National Union of Teachers

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has been unhappy with the suggestion from a report by the House of Commons Education Committee that in future they be paid by reference to the results of their pupils. The report entitled "Great Teachers: attracting, training and retaining the best" made a number of suggestions aimed at improving teaching and ultimately the education that students receive. Although many new ideas were introduced it was the idea that a teachers pay be directly related to results that has spawned the most criticism.

Amongst the other suggestions there was the suggestion that sixth former students currently considering a career in teaching be given the opportunity to try it out at that point. This would allow them to decide whether they had a knack for it or not. There were also calls for more stringent levels to be applied to the literacy and numeracy requirements for future teachers. It was further suggested that before being offered a role as a teacher the applicant should first be observed actually teaching a class. After all someone good on paper might not necessarily be the best person for the job in person.

With regard to current methods of pay in teaching the report said that those who are weaker teachers should not be able to hide behind the now "rigid and unfair" pay structure. The report read 'we believe that performance-management systems should support and reward the strongest teachers, as well as make no excuses (or, worse, incentives to remain) for the weaker.' It therefore could be perceived also as a method of pin pointing the weaker teachers and providing them with training for example.

The report asked for a consideration of how much a teacher effects a student in later life and their overall prospects. Such an important job should therefore be more carefully managed, one such method could be through pay. "We strongly recommend that the Department for Education seeks to quantify what scale of variation in teacher value added equates to in terms of children's later prospects. We further recommend that the Department develops proposals (based on consultation and a close study of systems abroad) for a pay system which rewards those teachers who add the greatest value to pupil performance."

The General Secretary of NUT, Christine Blower, replied by explaining that "payment by results is total nonsense. Children are not tins of beans and schools are not factory production lines. Successful schools rely on a collegiate approach and team working. Performance-related pay is not only inappropriate but also divisive." She further explained that it wasn't as easy as it might on first reflection seem, to assess teachers' abilities on the success of their pupils. She urged the committee and others to also take into account the fact that the geographical area, social class, particular crop of students that year and so on, would all ultimately effect performance. She also warned that those teachers feeling that they are not being rewarded for their hard work would move elsewhere, perhaps to those areas where there are less social issues which effect the success of students.

There is increasing concern surrounding the relative attractiveness of a career in teaching and Blower asked that those in power take this issue into consideration. "Unless the Government addresses the issue of pay and pensions as well as a punishingly high workload and accountability system, no amount of 'marketing' will convince graduates that teaching is an attractive career."

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