|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point|
Wednesday, 3 May, 2000, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Should teachers strike?
Members of the biggest teachers' union for England and Wales, the NUT, have voted for a ballot on a one-day strike over performance-related pay.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Many teachers are angry their pay could be affected by the test results of children as young as seven.
The union's conference wants all NUT members to vote on whether or not to strike over this government proposal.
Andrew Long, UK
How can teachers claim to be overworked? They have the shortest working year of any group I can think of and complain that they have to work after 15:30 and sometimes at weekends. Well, I work in industry and get 25 days leave a year which I rarely have time to take completely. I do not get overtime or annual increments. I am paid by results at the discretion of my manager. I am not complaining.
If the government is concerned about attracting bright young graduates into the teaching profession, surely a bonus of £2000 in the first year (followed by a salary comparable with the private sector) will be more effective than offering the distant reward of a rise 7 years into the job. The salary on entry into teaching is not going to change with the new proposals, and graduates are still going to avoid working 50+ hours a week for less than £15,000 p/a.
If teachers are being let down by idle colleagues, do you think the best way to motivate these same colleagues is to say 'you suck so you get no money'? That will not help at all - if anything it will make schools far more divisive than they are, and will split the education service down the middle. If performance-related pay is introduced it will wreck the teaching profession more than the Tories did when they were in power, and it will be a blow that I don't think they will ever recover from.
The NUT Conference voted to ballot for a one day strike. The government has already forced schools to cease educating children for one day this term to hold training for the threshold application procedure. The government has told schools to close to children for another day next term to hold a training day on performance management. So, in two terms, it is the government which has taken away two days of children's education. It has done this to impose a system which (so-called) consultation showed was opposed by most teachers. It is the government which is damaging education by imposing an unfair and bureaucratic system. If the NUT does strike for a day, to protest against this, children will still have lost more time from the implementation of government's system than from the NUT's protest!
The firm I run works with LEAs and schools throughout the country. I know that most teachers do a reasonable to pretty good job; some do an outstanding job and a few are utterly abysmal. In the average primary school, generally it seems that there will be 2 or 3 outstanding teachers and 1 or 2 abysmal teachers. In the average secondary school there is usually at least one teacher whose incompetence is actually doing his pupils harm.
As a student in South Africa I have a fairly extensive knowledge of strikes and their consequences.
I think that to introduce performance related pay for teachers anywhere would be a grave mistake.
In this country it would not be accepted at all.
Pupils can never be forced to learn; they have to be inspired to do so.
To put the kind of pressure on a teacher as performance related pay would, would no doubt decrease teacher's morale should they come across struggling pupils and this could lead to hostility towards such pupils.
Are the kudos, say, for my daughter's prowess in music or mathematics to be ascribed to the teachers who have taught them at "A" level, or might it not equally be due to other teachers who, many years ago, awakened a love for the subjects? Or how can performance-related pay be assessed in team-teaching situations?
Robert Leggat, UK
Maybe if the Teachers are trusted to educate our future leaders and followers then we should be able to trust them if they vote for strike action.
They are adults after all, and certainly well educated.
My pay is very respectable compared to other non-teaching salaries that I've earned, and I don't mind working hard because teaching is a profession requiring commitment. Let's get on with modernising the profession (even embracing financial rewards; why be afraid of PRP if you're any good at your job?), and get rid of "Winnie-the-Pooh" sweat-shirted militants still living in the 70s.
Paul Edwards, England
The point is missed by many readers. Teachers by and large do not moan. Slowly but surely the stress levels have risen as they have suffered till they screamed.
The only "getting real" is to do something about it. It would actually be irresponsible to be bullied any longer and do nothing.
It's terrible that teachers should have to take such direct action to get the message across, but it seems that they do.
Any teacher should have the right to strike. However, they should not expect the local or national taxpayer to pay for the time lost. Any teacher deliberately absent for more than one week should be required to sit an examination in his/her subjects to make sure that the minimum standards are conformed with.
Here we go again! The moaning minnies of the teaching "profession" kicking and screaming against an employer that simply wants to measure their performance.
Welcome to the real word! Here the good are rewarded, the bad are sacked. Hard to handle for those that are used to the comforts of a protected culture.
I feel a bit like Popeye..."I've had all I can stands and I can't stands no more"
However I can't stand spinach so a one-day strike
will just have to do.
And have you noticed the family resemblance between Bluto and Blunkett?
Kirsty Kapande, Northern Ireland
My brother, who is not a teacher, directed me (a teacher) to this site. Having read the various comments my feeling is that there are really two issues facing us.
Life is full of competition with rewards coming to those who excel. Welcome to the real world "Teach"!
Although it may be good to pay teachers according to performance it is something that cannot be fairly judged without massive investment. How do you compare the pay of someone teaching the top set with that of someone teaching kids who can barely speak? It doesn't make sense and that is why we should give teachers some support.
Look, teachers are dealing with the producing of human beings, not commodities. Evaluating teachers' performance is not as simple as it is in other jobs. Their outcomes may not be ready for several years.
Teachers could leaflet parents and have meetings for them to explain their case. I don't really think the parents would be "alienated" whatever that means in practice.
Ian Hollingworth, England
If teachers decide to go on strike, what example does this give to our children, who will become the work force of the future. I would advise Teachers, if you don't like what you do or if you don't like the pay or indeed the great number of holidays get another job and see if you like being on the breadline and having to work overtime in order to make ends meet. See how you like having to live like the majority of people.
It seems that everyone in the public sector thinks he/she deserves more money, for what? For doing their job? Get real, we all want more pay for our jobs. I think the teachers should get a grip on themselves and get on with their job, the moaning has gone on long enough.
With all due respect, I don't think the opinions of those that aren't teachers count here. Non-teachers will never realise just how hard the job is. PRP is completely unfair and those who are not to be affected by it should gracefully step aside and close their mouths.
If you want to work in the real world you are welcome to walk in my shoes for a day. I arrive at school at 7.30 am, get home at 5 and then continue to work until 8 in the evening. This is my second profession, I was a retail manager and I have therefore "lived in the real world". I would like to be paid along the same lines as other graduates, I would like to have the respect that other professions such as nursing have; I would also like to be treated as a professional.
I was amazed by the
comment by Brian Stickle
saying that parents
should try paying
for their children's
Have we forgotten that
parents do pay, through
I wonder if this kind
of "we educate your
children for free"
attitude is widespread
If it is, it could
The government won't listen to teachers, their union representatives and independent research, which shows PRP doesn't work in the public sector. That's why I voted for strike action!
Tony Moss, UK
PRP will make education no longer about teaching, it will take away the little imagination that students have left in schools, to make them individual. PRP will mould students into being sameish, and will make education be not about learning, but about funding the teachers' summer holiday.
If schools were producing the well-educated people we needed there would not be a need for PRP. But they are not. Teachers, welcome to the real world your pupils will have to live in.
There are many comments about the "real world" and the location of teachers relative to it. I hope all the people who claim to live there themselves also send their children to school there and pay "real world" rates for it.
The performance related pay structure for teachers is a good idea, but I also recognise that the associated administrative tasks make teachers jobs harder. Why not (as part of an overall increase in education spending) provide extra administrative assistants for schools to relieve the burden on teachers.
People are mixing up too many issues here, forgetting that this is about paying for performance. This can only be a good thing. Teachers who are good at teaching and make a difference (and despite all the howls of protest this is not that difficult thing to do) will be rewarded, those who aren't, won't.
We don't see many complaints about having a promotions system, and this hasn't "ripped apart" the teaching profession.
Going to strike over paying teachers who are good at their job more is frankly barking mad and will be heralded as a return to the loony left days - which truth be told it sounds like even to a labour supporter like me!
Paul Steven, Scotland
I don't think teachers should strike and I don't think they want to, however what can they do to defend themselves from the governments attitude towards them. I am a part time tutor in a higher education college and from my own experience I don't know a teacher who doesn't give 200%. The students are like having your own family and we want them to do well, this inspires all teachers to ensure they do well.
It's time to move forward, Teaching is no longer the past time of a select few. The new breed of teachers i.e. Graduates, need to be told they are doing well...what is wrong with the incentive of reward and constructive criticism, can this really be faulted?
Carl, United Kingdom
I am still young enough to remember how bad some of my teachers were. A common practice in the private sector is 360 degree assessment: you are evaluated by your peers and people under you as well as your boss. Maybe the pupils themselves should have some input into the assessment process.
But both the strong and the weak were called teachers, only one of them taught us anything. PRP may expose the weak teachers, but with shortages in strong teachers, who will we use to replace them? Do we understand the consequences of PRP in Schools?
You have already seen how schools bend the rules to increase grade output. On the surface PRP works, dig deeper.
Christian Moller, England
HOWEVER, I think it is totally unacceptable to go on strike. Teachers are professionals, and striking is not professional behaviour.
We will get the usual words about how reluctant they are to make children suffer, but the fact is the NUT is one of the last bastions of militancy in this country.
Parents should insist on knowing the membership of each union at any school they are considering, and avoid those with a high NUT membership.
There are good points, I do enjoy seeing a pupil's face when he/she understands something or does something, most of the pupils are lovely but I am sorry that is not enough recompense for all the terrible times. Let the Government take all this into account when it decides whether I am worth an extra 2000 pounds or not, let it wonder why I am tired in class and why I want to get out!
If teachers are good at their jobs as they all claim why are they afraid of being paid by their performance. They have had it easy for too long able to get away with poor performance without any sanction, now they will have to enter the real world with the rest of us.
Hold on a minute this sounds dangerous. If teachers are to be rewarded for the students exam results doesn't that leave the door wide open for cheating and teachers assisting their students in the exams themselves.
What have teachers got to hide?
If they're performing well, they'll be rewarded - if not, they'll be penalised.
Looking back to my own school years, I can't see what the Unions have got to complain about!
Mark Lisle, Germany (UK citizen)
In terms of financial rewards, teaching is probably one of the least attractive ones. This should indicate that people don't become teachers for money but for the actual welfare for future generations. The fact that they are going on strike proves how bad the situation is and I truly believe that the government's proposal is a real kick in the teeth for the teachers who slave themselves. Tony, do your country a favour and sort this mess out before it gets too late.
Those who complain about the teachers
should consider how many days
schooling have been lost through
broken down heating, unfit buildings
lack of resources that are the
result of the gross
under-funding of our
Providing teachers with the proper resources and an environment conducive to learning and you will have better teachers and students. What do teachers have to put up with? Crowded classrooms, longer hours than most civil servants, below average wages, disruptive students and risk physical harm. I say the teachers should go on strike for a week and let the government and parents have a go at it and see how well they do...
If British teachers think they are overworked and underpaid then they should come and have a look at Japan. Teachers here not only work Saturdays and during the summer, but have to help with compulsory club activities after school almost every day (sometimes going on till 7 o'clock) and their pay is still not very good. They do however get a lot of genuine respect, something which - judging from a few of these comments - is sadly lacking in the UK.
Will teachers of low ability sets therefore be discriminated against?? My wife took a pay cut to go from private sector into teaching, and the hours she has to work have doubled. The last thing teachers need is to have an extra load of administration thrown on them. It is not just a case of a 1 hour appraisal once or twice a year as it is with most jobs. But several hours a week.
It is important that teachers are awarded for good performance. If we believed the advocates of strike action, we would be led to believe that the teacher has no influence in children's academic performance. If this is their argument, how do they justify being called teachers?
Performance related pay schemes do not work. There is no simple and verifiable way to measure a teacher's performance. Without it, it becomes a matter of a manger's personal opinion. This leads to disputes and the demoralising of anyone who can, at the whim of a manager, or by unknown directives from higher management, lose a significant income. The result is an unhappy and unmotivated staff at best and loss of good staff at worst.
Tom Barry, UK
How dare the government pit teacher against teacher like this? Remember it is NOT the idle teachers who are complaining. It is the majority of hard working, over worked, under paid teachers.
How would one measure the performance of a teacher? By the grades (as mentioned above) or by the way the students behave themselves in society, or what?
Teachers are the people who will shape future generations, and they should be given great respect for that. My parents were both in unions, and even though they were overworked and underpaid they NEVER went on strike. As a note, of all the available professions teaching is the one that my parents insisted I not go into. I wonder why?
Andrew Hughes, Wales
Why the focus on PRP alone? Longer working days coupled (perhaps until 17:30) with more school terms/shorter holidays would bring the cloistered world of academia into the 21st Century!
Dave Hay, UK
I believe that teachers should be well paid so that they can help children to become good and intelligent human beings rather than useful drones for market forces. Those teachers which perform well should be rewarded with something like free holiday trips, rehabilitation, travel to seminars and symposiums etc.
Christian Bodhi, UK
No, they should pull themselves together and put the kids first.
Oliver Richardson, United Kingdom
I have to careful what I say as my
sister is a teacher. The only people
that agree with this form of action is
surprisingly enough - Teachers.
We all realise that they have a difficult
job to do, but don't we all???
Teachers do not need to be made to work harder, and carefully focussed performance related pay would carry the profession on to where it needs to be in today's society.
Jonathan Blake, UK
It's Easter, so it's Teacher Whinging season. PRP is the norm in the real world - it's time teachers and other 'conservative' public sector workers understood this.
Most parents want (or should want) the best education they can get for their children to help equip them as independent thinking adults. State schools have been failing in that arena with their mind dulling regimented lowest denominator approach.
Nick Pontone, UK
The chronically sad feature of this debate is that is has been boiled down to the point of taking sides over whether teachers should strike. The more important issues seem to have been discarded. E.g. Why is PRP deemed necessary? Whose interests are served
by uniform testing of primary school children? Is this testing really necessary? I confess that I do not know the answer to any of these questions. However it seems more intelligent to ask than to take sides!!
If I were a bad teacher I would welcome this assessment to show me what areas of my skill set I needed to develop. If I were a good teacher I would welcome this as I would get more money. I would only oppose this if I were a politically motivated teacher living in the past.
It's about time the Government started to listen to the real experts in teaching - the teachers!
If teachers really
want parity with the
private sector, they
must accept the same
pay on an individual
basis are part of
Those of us who live in the real world all have performance-related pay. If teachers aren't happy with their 3-month summer holiday, they can always change jobs.
Is there just a little sign that teachers are in fact scared of performance related pay?! I wonder why?!
Strike or resign. I would
probably go for the latter.
If the government isn't
willing to pay teachers
a decent salary, then finding
a proper job is the only real
solution. The public sector sucks. Find a job in industry!
Point being, my interest was not peaked by my teacher, though it was by other teachers in the other subjects. So I agree that pupils' success in different subjects should be linked to teachers' compensation. How that should be achieved, I'll leave to others to pontificate over, but the basic premise of pay for performance is sound.
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK
Teachers would be wrong to strike as it effects children and parents directly and generally shows teachers in a bad light in the eyes of the public. There are far more effective weapons that the unions could use without losing that ever-important public support. I.e. non-co-operation on development of new A levels etc.
Many teachers use incentive schemes
to entice their pupils to work harder
and achieve something at school. So why on
earth do they object to a similar scheme for
themselves? Is it because so many of them
are going to have to pull their finger out?
24 Apr 00 | Unions 2000
Teachers call for strike ballot
22 Apr 00 | Unions 2000
Teachers snub and heckle minister
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Other Talking Points:
Links to other Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy