TEACHERS Federation representative Bob Seltin described as
TEACHERS Federation representative Bob Seltin described as "blackmail" Julie Bishop?s threat to withhold funding from the state

Performance pay rejected by teachers

NEELIMA CHOAHAN

A MOVE to enforce a controversial federal government performance-pay proposal might lead teachers to revolt, a Tweed teachers' representative said yesterday.

Tweed Heads Teachers Federation president Bob Seltin said federal Education Minister Julie Bishop's plan to pay teachers according to their performance was divisive and unworkable.

"People who come up with these ideas have no understanding of education," Mr Seltin said.

"It is not a business and we do not produce products."

Mr Seltin said working together delivered better outcomes for students.

"The whole system is based on collegiality, not competi- tion," he said. "They shouldn't want teachers looking over their shoulder trying to outsmart each other."

However, in a statement issued to the Daily News yesterday Ms Bishop said the proposal would help maintain teacher quality and offer career incentives based on increased skills and competencies.

"The current system of paying teachers, based on years of service was leading to frustration and resignations on the part of teachers," Ms Bishop said.

The minister will meet her state counterparts in Darwin this week to demand they implement her blueprint.

School principals' assessment of a teacher's work would be a key determinant of performance pay under Ms Bishop's proposal, alongside student results and parent feedback.

But Banora Point High School principal June Rogan said such an arrangement might set the principal against the staff.

"There is a potential for dispute over the decisions taken by principals (on teacher performance) which might undermine the team," Ms Rogan said. "And schools work very hard to build a team."

In addition, she said, the proposal was impossible to implement.

"I can't see how they envision it working because if you are going to judge against the criteria of the student you are asserting all students and classrooms are the same," she said.

"Whereas you just have to walk one classroom to another in one school, let alone across the entire nation, to know they are not all the same."

Banora Point High P & C president Nicole Kammel said though she didn't believe the plan could be monitored fairly the system could be used to worm out non-performing teachers.

But, Ms Rogan said, ways to accredit teachers were already in existence.

"We've got procedures to weed out the inefficient teachers," she said.

NSW Education Minister John Della Bosca also stepped up his attack on the plan.

"Paying teachers according to their popularity is the sort of policy that might be proposed when absolutely everything else has failed," he said in a Sydney newspaper col- umn.

Mr Seltin said the Ms Bishop's threat to withhold funding from the states unless they agree to implement the performance pay scheme, and move towards a national curriculum was "blackmail".

Meanwhile, Lindesfarne Anglican Grammar School principal Christopher Duncan said more than 50 NSW indepen- dent schools had already signed an Australian Workers Agreement (AWA) contract under which "exemplary teachers" were given a bonus of $5000 per annum.

The teachers were judged against a set of professional standards outlined by the Association of Independent Schools of NSW.

However Mr Duncan said at Lindesfarne they believed in more "traditional" methods of ensuring better outcomes.

"The aim is always to raise the standard of teaching and learning," he said.

"And the best way to do that is to recruit and retain high quality teachers."

Mr Duncan said the school had no plan to adopt the system.

"It is not the best way of raising teachers' standards. It's a way, but not the best way," he said.



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