Teachers say student progress should be considered in salaries

Teachers say student progress should be considered in salaries
52% of teachers said that student progress and results

should be one of the criteria used in performance-related pay

More than half of teachers support pay being based on students’ progress and results, according to a new survey.

52% of teachers said that “considering the progress and results of pupils they teach” should be one of the criteria used to decide whether they should progress along the pay scale.

The survey, conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) for the Sutton Trust, asked 1,163 primary and secondary school teachers about performance-related pay (PRP) criteria.

Respondents to the survey were allowed to choose more than one assessment preference. The most popular options were assessment by more senior staff (60%) or by the headteacher (54%).

Ofsted inspectors grading lessons was the least popular option (9%), closely followed by evaluation by students (10%).

The teaching unions have called into question the methodology of the survey, saying it is “misleading” and an example of “spin”.

National Union of Teachers (NUT) general secretary, Christine Blower, claimed the survey actually proved the opposite of NFER’s findings.

“Despite the spin, this research proves again that teachers oppose the government’s new PRP measures,” she said.

“Historically, movement up the pay scale was linked to seniority and increasing professional skills and competence. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that teachers continue to favour the previous system, which is transparently fairer and less open to biased judgements.”

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:

“[It] seems almost as if the [Sutton] Trust began with a conclusion, then looked for evidence to support it. Moreover, the research is based on a small proportion of teachers and even then, more than one answer could be given to each of the criteria, so it is disingenuous, at best, to talk of the results in terms of percentages.”

“Teachers were not asked whether pupil results should be the sole criterion for determining pay progression. We suspect that if teachers had been asked this question, the figure given in the headline would have shrunk dramatically.”

Sutton Trust’s director of research Conor Ryan said in response to the unions’ claims:

“Our polling is drawn from the highly respected NFER teachers’ omnibus and is a representative sample of nearly 1,200 teachers. They were offered a range of options, and a majority chose the progress and results of their pupils as an appropriate method for deciding their pay.”

Sue Birchall, business manager at Willesborough Primary and Infants in Kent, has overseen the implementation of PRP in her school since last September. She said it has been a “fairly positive process” and is not surprised with the survey’s results.

Regarding the second least popular option of assessment by pupils, she said: “I can understand that teachers would feel threatened by that.

“Pupil voice is important, but especially as you reach secondary school you’re probably opening yourself up to an element of victimisation from certain pupils.”

PRP was introduced for experienced teachers in 2000. The coalition is extending this for pay increases during the first five years of teaching, replacing length of service. Schools are required to revise their pay and appraisal policies to link pay progression to a teacher’s performance from September 2014.

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