Secretary of State, Michael Gove, is a strong supporter of performance-related pay – he says so in his submission
to the School Teachers’ Review Body – and a recent Sutton Trust Teacher Voice Survey
revealed that three-quarters of teachers agreed that pay should be linked to performance.
52% of teachers agreed that Main Pay Scale teachers should have annual increments “apart from those judged to have performed badly.” 23% said annual increments should be restricted to teachers “judged to have performed well”. However this performance is not judged merely by exam results. Teachers favoured a mix of methods including assessment by headteacher (48%) and/or more senior staff (66%), peer assessment (24%) and considering the progress and results of pupils currently taught by the teacher being assessed (46%). Only 8% thought performance should be graded by Ofsted.
The survey wasn’t just about performance (although the Government describes it so). Teachers felt there should be a professional body for teachers but Mr Gove has already abolished the General Teaching Council and replaced it with the Teaching Agency. The Sutton Trust said it was unclear whether the Teaching Agency would have the type of supportive role that is offered by other professional bodies.
Most teachers were satisfied with their jobs which contradicts recent concerns about teacher morale. However, the survey found that large numbers were dissatisfied. This had four causes: relentless change from new policies; time pressure; amount of paperwork; and pressure from benchmarks and inspections.
The Sutton Trust is keen that more state-educated pupils enter Oxbridge. The survey found that secondary school teachers underestimated the proportion of state pupils already there. The figures for 2010 show that 55% of Oxford undergraduates and 59% at Cambridge are from state schools. However, 79% of teachers underestimated the proportion. Just under a half of teachers said they always or usually advised academically-gifted pupils to apply to Oxbridge and just under a fifth said they never did so. Senior teachers were more likely to suggest applying to Oxbridge – the Sutton Trust thought this might be because they are more involved with university applications or careers advice.
The survey questioned teachers about their attitudes to academies and free schools. A large number of teachers were not in favour of academy conversion especially when it was enforced. The majority did not agree with the establishment of free schools. The Trust noted that a large proportion answered “don’t know” to these questions which suggested there was “confusion or a lack of information among teachers”. The survey didn’t ask for reasons behind teachers’ opinions but repeated previous research which found that teachers were concerned that academies and free schools could increase social segregation and may not advantage less privileged pupils.
Mr Gove should take note of these results and not just choose those answers which seem to support his policies.