No Return to Payment by Results

“WE’RE NOT going to let Blunkett divide and demoralise schools”. That will be the message from hundreds of teachers rallying against performance-related pay (PRP) this Saturday.

Martin Powell-Davies, Lewisham NUT

The Tories did enough damage by setting school against school through performance league tables. Now New Labour want to take market forces even further and set teacher against teacher. They want teachers’ pay to be measured by pupils’ exam results and OFSTED inspectors’ gradings.

But the laws of the market have no place in schools. How do you fairly compare different teachers from different schools? Teachers will opt for classes and schools where it’s easier to “perform”. PRP is a devastating attack on comprehensive education.

“PRP isn’t going to work,” says Southampton primary teacher Liz Filer “It doesn’t take into account how children learn. We’re already being asked to set up booster classes for six-year-olds. This will put children under even more pressure.

“Teamwork will go out of the window. Who is going to want to teach children with special needs if you’re paid by results?”

New Labour want parents to question teacher competence instead of the government’s failure to fund schools properly and tackle poverty. They want teachers to take on even more unbearable workload and compete with colleagues for pay.

“They claim ‘good’ teachers will be rewarded but we all deserve a £2,000 pay rise,” says Merseyside secondary teacher Robin Pye. “PRP is all about trying to make us choose which few of us get a decent wage. Most of us will only receive a below average 3.3% increase.”

Even the Review Body warns the government that they have failed to win the arguments in schools over PRP. Blunkett is pressing on regardless. Now we’ve no choice but to turn anger into action.

School Teachers Opposed to Performance Pay (STOPP) has had to take the initiative to organise Saturday’s demonstration but it’s time the national unions gave a lead. Several local associations of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) have already organised indicative strike ballots.

Results from Liverpool to Lewisham, Bristol to St Helens show that teachers would vote for action to stop performance pay damaging schools.

On 17 February the NUT national executive are voting on a motion to ballot for the one-day strike action agreed by NUT conference. Teachers must rush in demands that the executive supports that call.

The government’s spin doctors are losing their touch. A bold campaign combining action and publicity can defeat performance pay and unite parents and teachers in demanding proper investment in comprehensive education.