How far will teachers go to improve GCSE results if their pay depends on it?

Aug 22, 2014 by

For the first time since the introduction of performance-related pay, students’ results could affect their teacher’s salary. Sarah Marsh explores the risks around the policy change

For the thousands of students getting their GCSE results today, the arrival of a small slip of paper could have big impact on how they spend the next few years of their life.

But this year, the contents of those little slips will affect teachers too – through their pay. Former education secretary Michael Gove put an end to the old salary system by which teachers progressed to higher points on the national pay scale according to length of service, linking it instead to annual appraisals.

A teacher’s pay is now decided by their headteacher according to how well they have performed that year, and results may well be a factor. Jonathan Simons, the head of education at Policy Exchange, says how far exam results affect salaries is at the discretion of the school and determined by what systems are in place.

Teacher unions argue that performance-related pay could lead to pay cuts for some, but could this policy also put even more pressure on teachers to improve results?

In the US, performance-related pay has been linked to cheating scandals; 35 school staff in Atlanta were caught telling students answers or changing their written responses. Talking to USA Today, Timothy McDonald, member of Atlanta’s Concerned Black Clergy, said: “This is not about the children. This is about money. Every school system has contracts. This is about folks getting their hands on those contracts.”

Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders, is confident that something like this wouldn’t happen in the UK because most exams are externally checked and our internal assessments aren’t easy to cheat either. “There are systems in place to protect against this now,” he says.

via How far will teachers go to improve GCSE results if their pay depends on it? | Teacher Network | theguardian.com.

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