Research carried out in late August 2013 by the VoicED education market research community has discovered that the vast majority of GCSE teachers are against performance related pay. The research, carried out in the aftermath of GCSE results day, gathered opinions from 145 teachers with direct responsibility for teaching or overseeing GCSEs in their schools. Respondents were from a wide geographic area covering all regions of England. The GCSE teachers taught at a mix of urban, rural and inner city schools, and were responsible for teaching or overseeing a wide range of over 30 subjects, including English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, Music and several different Modern Foreign Languages.
Teachers were asked, taking in to account their entire teaching career and experience of a school environment, to give their agreement with the following statement on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being total agreement and 1 being total disagreement:
Paying teachers based on performance in exams will result in a better education system in terms of providing students who are prepared for further study or the workplace.
The results showed that teachers at GCSE level – who it is likely the new policy will effect most directly – are vehemently against the proposal, with half (50%) giving a score of 1 – total disagreement. Indeed, four in five (79%) of respondents gave a response from 1 to 3, with only 3% (less than one in twenty) giving a comparable score of 8-10 at the other end of the scale. If we consider 5-6 to be ‘neutral’ numbers indicating no real agreement or disagreement, then less than 1 in 10 (9%) of GCSE teachers spoken to by VoicED could be said to have had any level of agreement at all, as shown by the chart below.
Qualitative comments from teachers generally reflected the view above, and provide details to why GCSE teachers are against performance related pay, as well as raising a number of questions as to how the new policy would work in practice:
“Who will teach the difficult; the dysfunctional and those needing motivation? Who will work with the aggressive SEN; the teen mum and the emotionally sensitive? Who will see the child and not the percentage for performance management? Pay by results was tried 100 years ago: it didn’t work then.”
“I agree that performance related pay should exist to some extent – if you get terrible results year on year (and poor observations and show no willingness to improve) then why should you be on UPS3!? However it is not just these people who are penalised but all hard working teachers, particularly English teachers who work more hours than anyone else.”
“I think teacher related pay is nonsense and is just another way of penalising teachers and increasing the amount of pressure based upon them. Teacher pay is entirely mismatched to the amount of pressure and work that is involved with this role. There should be other ways of removing teachers who are not performing well without severe consequences for the teacher body as a whole.”
“Performance-related pay would be a less flawed idea if it didn’t depend on human individuals whose changing circumstances are out of a teacher’s control. Looking at grades is so flawed it isn’t even worth thinking about. Looking at value-added is no better a solution; students expected to get A*s who do get A*s show zero value added when they have actually achieved as highly as they could. Some measure of how much support a teacher has given pupils would be far better, but how on earth you would do this I don’t know.”
On a similar topic, the research also asked respondents about the level of competition that exists between individual teachers on a school, local and national level in terms of GCSE results. At an overall level, respondents reported feeling under more pressure to perform well in exams compared to the national level. A quarter stated that they felt under ‘a lot of pressure’ to outperform teachers at their own school, compared to around two fifths who felt under ‘a lot of pressure’ to outperform others at a local authority (41%) and national (44%) level. Only 14% stated that they were under ‘no pressure’ at all to compete against teachers in their school, whilst this figure dropped to less than one in twenty (3%) when taken at a national level. English teachers were statistically more likely to feel the need to outperform their colleagues at a Local Authority level than were mathematics and science teachers, although there was little difference in terms of subject taught on a national scale.
This piece of research, ‘GCSE Teachers Are Against Performance Related Pay’, was carried out by the VoicED Community, an education market research panel owned and operated by DJS Research Ltd. You can find out more details about the wider piece of research by visiting DJS Research’s website. Alternatively, if you are a teacher or education professional who would like the opportunity to voice your opinion, please visit the VoicED Community’s member site and join our panel. We are a partner of the Prince’s Teaching Institute and engage purely in market research.