Don't do it, Mr Gove: The Secretary of State shouldn't adopt PRP
Show me a teacher who does his job for the money, and I'll show you a teacher who is mediocre. Any good teacher is motivated on the whole by the children they teach. They love them and the kids know it. That love is what bonds pupil and teacher, especially in the inner city. The more deprived the children, the more love matters. Teacher is motivated by pupils, and pupils by teacher: results go up, and everyone is successful. But make money the motivating factor, and everything goes kaput.
Performance-related pay (PRP) seems like a good idea on the surface: reward teachers for a job well done. If the kids get excellent exam results, it means the teacher did a good job. Why not give her an extra £500 in her pay packet to say well done? Because, for the sake of £500, you'll turn your school into a place where that teacher won't want to work. By rewarding your best staff with financial bonuses you create a culture that will make them leave the school, and you achieve exactly the opposite of what you wanted.
Private schools would use PRP if it worked. I have never heard of any that do. If you ask some of these old headmasters why, they won't tell you it is because teachers are above the grubbiness of money. They'll say that PRP would destroy the ethos of their school.
Those who believe in performance-related pay for our schools are reacting against ludicrous claims coming from the extreme Left and the teaching unions, in support of the current incremental pay system. Some shout about how PRP will be used to discriminate against good staff who are hated by bad heads. Others say that PRP is about cutting all teachers' salaries. Others still believe deep down that any decent socialist education system must understand, at its heart, that all teachers are the same, and therefore must receive the same pay.
But proponents of PRP are also reacting against a very real problem in schools: poor teachers who move up the pay scale at the same rate as teachers who work, day and night, to transform kids' lives. It just doesn't seem fair. It is bloody annoying for those excellent teachers who feel their work goes unrecognised. It is absolutely the case that even the best heads struggle to reward teachers as accurately and as well as they would like with the standard incremental pay scale. Presumably that's why Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, is backing PRP. What he may not realise is that while extra money in a teacher's pocket is always nice, and it may seem counterintuitive to question PRP, the implementation of a system of PRP is too pernicious and divisive to justify it.
First, let's dismiss the myths. Good teachers work all hours. They are not tutoring on the side to make more money. They simply don't have the time. Nor are they toying with the idea of leaving the state sector to go to the private sector, where they can earn more. State school teachers who leave do so because they are tired of the chaos, and crave some peace in their lives. Teachers earn relatively good money. Long gone are the days when teachers were genuinely struggling to live on their salaries. Leading Practitioner pay rewards excellent teachers who wish to stay in the classroom with salaries up to £57,520, or £64,677 if in inner London. Teachers leave not because of the pay but because their working conditions prevent them from changing the world, as they had imagined they were going to do.
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