Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Pay and Conditions - Performance Pay 'Makes Sense' to Most Teachers: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Pay and Conditions - Performance Pay 'Makes Sense' to Most Teachers: News

Article excerpt

Former union boss claims that 'silent majority' support reform.

The "silent majority" of teachers support their pay being linked to how well they perform in the classroom, a US former union leader turned education reformer has claimed.

As tens of thousands of teachers in England went on strike this week over changes to their pay, pensions and working conditions, former Washington Teachers' Union president George Parker (pictured, right) argued that performance-related pay made "perfect sense" to many in the profession.

In an exclusive interview with TES, Mr Parker - who oversaw the introduction of performance pay in Washington DC - blamed the industrial action on politicians' failure to clearly explain the changes to teachers.

Tuesday's strike by the NUT and NASUWT unions, which have vehemently opposed the introduction of performance pay to the classroom, resulted in 29 per cent of schools in about half the regions of England being forced to shut for the day. The Department for Education did not disclose how many schools had partially closed.

Mr Parker - who addressed the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on the day of the strike - said that most teachers would prefer to be paid according to the quality of their teaching. "The teacher who puts more effort and more time into getting better results deserves to be rewarded," he told TES. "He deserves to earn more money.

"There's a silent majority of teachers out there that support reform, but they are not the teachers who are going to come to the union meetings because they are not very vocal. They go into their classrooms, they close their doors and they teach. They're not very confrontational. But that doesn't mean they don't care, if you give them the chance to express themselves."

A survey released this week by right-leaning thinktank Policy Exchange finds that nine in 10 teachers (89 per cent) think that teaching quality should be a "major driver" of pay progression. By comparison, 60 per cent say that pay should be closely linked to time served in the classroom.

But fewer than one in five (16 per cent) of the teachers surveyed say that they would want to work in a school where pay is "more explicitly linked" to performance, while 40 per cent say an explicit link would make them less inclined to apply for a job at the school in question. …

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