Yesterday Michael Gove released his evidence to the STRB relating to proposals to change teachers pay.

The BBC Education correspondent Sean Coughlan reported :

Education Secretary Michael Gove says he wants a system that can attract the highest quality teachers.

Teachers’ unions have already raised the prospect of industrial action against plans for regional pay.

“Reform of the current pay system for teachers is fundamental to driving up teacher quality,” said Mr Gove.

He rejected the current system as “rigid, complex and difficult to navigate”.

The House of Commons education select committee recently called for a pay system that reflected the different contributions of school staff.

“We are concerned that the pay system continues to reward low-performers at the same levels as their more successful peers,” MPs reported.

As a former teacher now being rewarded for true performance related pay ( I run a tuition centre, the number of pupils enrolled reflects the confidence the parents have in me to deliver progress) there is a partial agreement. I used to look around as an enthusiastic committed teacher working many extra hours to enable better grades for my pupils realising that other couldn’t make the same claim.

However deregulation to either a “zone” or to individual schools comes with problems. The overseeing of this process is problematic and bureaucratic. Headteachers already have quite a few processes currently that encompass rewarding staff with better salaries. The threshold payments, Excellent Teachers, AST’s, additional points for responsibility and more. With this flexibility the judgement of the Headteacher and the Governors becomes critical, and the fiscal responsibility high.

I can recount a story of a Headteacher in a Grant Maintained School who created a massive budget deficit with the implications of the decisions that were made. The LEA gave the Head a sideways promotion, so as to not have to admit their reporting and monitoring of the school had failed. The result? A second school hit budget deficit problems.

Amongst the issues faced were a Head of Department appointed who had only taught at FE level on 5 additional points. The school, in special measures, pushed a huge number of teachers through the AST route, only 1 possibly 2, had the evidence to show that they were in reality, Advanced, Skilled Teachers. The results? One couldn’t get a single C grade with the school’s top set, one had to pull all her students out of everyone’s lessons for two weeks to get coursework complete, one had the department’s worst results and one had an attendance rate of about 40%. Allied to a craze of new posts and responsibilities the teacher wage budget was running at over 100% of income, before even a penny spent on curriculum resources and ancillary staff.

It’s an extreme example, but it shows that the monitoring of these proposals are key. Monitoring costs money, creates new Local Government positions, with high salaries, high pensions.

This was a Head that received full backing from the LEA. His judgement was flawed, the LEA’s judgement was flawed. A school, it’s pupils and it’s staff suffered. Worse, a second school, their pupils and their staff had to also suffer.

Reward the better teachers, those that make the most progress with their pupils, but make it a rigorous process that can be measured and benchmarked.


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