Wednesday, 2 April 2014

An East Sussex teacher writes...

A fantastic letter to parents was sent by NUT colleague, Tom Hayes, a teacher at an Eastbourne Secondary school. The letter was picked up by ITV News here.

We, the undersigned, oppose the introduction of Performance Related Pay for teachers, firstly in principle because we see education in schools as essentially a collaborative endeavour in which we depend upon each other.

The success of our students is predicated upon their prior attainment and the good teaching they have received before they get to us as individual subject/class teachers.  We are also indebted to the support staff that make sure our rooms are clean and well maintained, our computers working, our photocopying and printing done, sickness and absence followed up etc. and we are grateful for Teaching Assistant support in our lessons.

To individualise the pay of any teacher working in such a complex cooperative environment serves to undermine the basic collective ethos of a school. Should a good teacher who enjoys success with a class that has been well-educated and supported by others be financially rewarded?
And, vice versa, should that teacher be penalised for failing to deliver the goods with students who have not enjoyed previous support and success.

Currently it is quite common for students to move in and out of our sets/classes/groups for a variety of reasons.  We accept the students we are given, make them welcome and try to do our best by them.
Would this still be the case if the possibility of receiving a vulnerable or troubled child into our teaching group could impact upon our outcomes and by extension our remuneration?

The second major objection we have to PRP concerns how performance is measured. Would teachers’ performance be measured in a value-added context? If it were then accurate baseline data would be essential and that in itself is a matter of some controversy.  The alternative is a crude measure of raw output in terms of levels and grades - this would obviously lead to inequities and unseemly clambering for the more able classes and sets.

If teachers’ performance is judged using lesson observations then we must be wary of subjectivity even within the constantly refined frameworks that are employed. Could someone explain to us how they would measure the goodwill that is extended (and exemplified) through school trips, time and sympathy for students experiencing problems, friendly and positive engagement with youngsters, and the extra mile that we as teachers are prepared to go on a daily basis?

In conclusion we do not think the performance of an individual teacher can be accurately and reliably measured (either by outcome or assessment by management) in a way that can be justifiably and clearly linked to pay - moreover we think that any attempt to do so will damage the fabric of a school, the morale of the profession and ultimately the educational experience of our young people.

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