Tristram Hunt: I support performance-related pay for teachers

Oct 20, 2013 by

Shadow education secretary finds case for rewarding better teachers compelling, but would retain bargaining structure

The new shadow education secretary, Tristram Hunt, has backed performance-related pay for teachers, saying he found the case for it compelling.

His aides insisted that he supported performance-related pay in the context of retaining a national bargaining structure, so long as a headteacher was given powers to reward strong performance, especially in difficult schools.

Teaching unions have been on strike this week to defend the national bargaining structure, especially pensions and the length of the working day, and they will look warily at the latitude Hunt is willing to give headteachers to reward success.

Hunt believes most heads, including many in academies, support the retention of the national scales because of their efficiency. He insists the policy is not a U-turn, but a shift in emphasis.

Since taking on the shadow post, Hunt has said he backed parent-led schools and praised the thinking of Peter Hyman, the former No 10 adviser and teacher who advocates new area-based approaches such as London Challenge.

The commission on social mobility and child poverty chaired by Alan Milburn on Thursday backed calls for greater incentives to encourage good teachers to work in low-attainment schools, as well as area-based approaches, to “eliminate the geographical lottery in school performance”.

Hunt told BBC Question Time: “I’m in favour of performance-related pay. We had a great report come out today by Alan Milburn on social mobility, and the chapters in there on education are totally compelling.

“The difference that a good teacher and a great teacher can make to the life chances, particularly of children from deprived communities, is absolutely stunning. And conversely, the difference a bad teacher can make to kids from low-income communities is devastating. So we want to reward excellence in the classroom, but we also want to create new pathways for teachers. Because at the moment, great teachers get sucked up into senior management, they become heads, they become deputy heads, they become super heads.

“What I think we need is a pathway for teachers, where you can excel in the classroom, where you have a career which means that your love of teaching and your love of imparting learning give you a pathway as a teaching career.

“So I’m in favour of performance-related pay, I’m in favour of making sure we don’t have bad teachers in schools, but what I’m really in favour of is continuing the professional development of teachers so we get the best-quality teachers in the world. We’ve got brilliant teachers out there at the moment, but we can do more.”

Conservatives claim that Hunt’s predecessor, Stephen Twigg, appeared to recoil from saying in public that he supported teachers’ pay linked to merit. He told the ATL teaching union in March: “I will defend national pay bargaining. National pay machinery is crucial. This gives teachers the protection that they deserve and maximises efficiency of administration.”

The NUT website says: “The government is pressing ahead with its plans to tear up the national teacher pay system and with its damaging changes to our pensions. Michael Gove wants to dismantle the national pay structure and introduce performance-related pay for all teachers.”

The Independent Schools Teaching Review Body recommended the end of automatic annual pay increments, and this came into effect on 1 September 2013. Labour has supported its recommendations.

via Tristram Hunt: I support performance-related pay for teachers | Politics | The Guardian.

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