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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Performance pay

Posted by on in Career pathways

Facts

 

There has been a deliberate misinformation campaign about the proposed Investing in Educational Success (IES) which calls for some straight-talking.

1. Get with the programme

The cabinet paper (January 23rd 2014) that talked about “executive” principals and “expert” teachers and performance pay has gone the way of dial-up and leg-warmers.   PPTA has been bargaining with the ministry to turn the initial offer into something that will work in schools.  The primary aim of a union is negotiate better deals for its members.

2. What's so wrong with collaboration?

Everyone acknowledges that the competition fuelled by Tomorrow’s Schools is bad for schools, bad for kids and bad for teachers but when there’s a chance to do something about it, we get patch protection.  Up and down the country,  schools have been trying to work together to improve things for their students – now they will get some funding and staffing to support their co-operative activities.  Those who don’t want to be in a community don’t have to – though they will not receive any of the community resources. And those who don't want to apply for any of the positions don't have to.  Collaboration can't be mandated.

3. There’s no such thing as a super principal

See 1 above. The people continuing to use terms like this haven’t kept up. The new role is called community of schools leadership role and the task is to facilitate the effective functioning of the community. Each school remains autonomous within the community. There will be no bogey, “super principal” coming into schools and bossing other principals around – the role might even be filled by a local DP, a recently retired principal or it might be job-shared.

4. They’re regular roles with regular pay plus an allowance. No performance pay

The new IES roles are just like those of specialist classroom teachers or HoD positions. They are roles with specific functions, with money, time and PLD attached and job descriptions that require the holder to work to share their best practice with their colleagues,  within schools and with other schools in the community. There will be a transparent advertising process (the law requires it) and appointment on merit. Some of the roles will be fixed-term and members have signalled they don’t mind that because it means more people can get experience in the job. It also allows the community of schools to re-appoint if its priorities change.   And all these people will be regular classroom teachers working with their colleagues to share their expertise.

5. Variation and voting

This is a proposal from the employer between collective agreement rounds, technically known as a variation.  PPTA averages about one a year and they always follow the same process.  The PPTA advocates get to work with the ministry and NZSTA to shape the proposal into something that they believe will work for secondary schools and teachers, and then members vote to either accept it or reject it.  There are almost no circumstances when we would go straight to members with a completely unformed, employer proposal without first negotiating the detail so members can vote from an informed perspective.  

Presently, we are a long way from a variation.  All we have so far is an interim agreement on some key elements because there are working parties around such things as appointments, professional standards and community of school operations that have yet to report. We anticipate that the full variation will be ready for voting early in term 4 which is a helpful timeline given the possible impact of the election.

6. PPTA is a union of professionals

IES is a political initiative because it comes from the party that is in government and because it's election year but its aims are entirely consistent with PPTA professional policy around such things as:

  • collaboration between schools
  • openness and the sharing of expertise
  • career paths -  especially for new and beginning teachers.

 

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

One of the promises of charter schools was that they would be innovative. And as every educational expert from business sponsored think tanks, marketing companies and discredited political parties knows, one of the biggest hurdles to innovation is the collective employment agreement.

The immutable laws of Freidman and Hayek tell us we can’t have 21st century, child-centred instruction while teachers have such industrial era expectations as a set number of hours, class size controls, non-contact time or payments for extra duties.

So, what is going on here then?

Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru, Whangaruru (2 positions)

(10 Mar 2014)

Our secondary, bilingual school, nestled within the picturesque setting of Whangaruru, is an inpiring land and water environment which will be embedded in our curriculum delivery. We seek registered, experienced teachers to fill two positions. (1) 0.5 junior science teacher. (2) Full-time English teacher. Applicants will have proven teaching ability, can motivate and engage students to learn to their potential, inspiring our students to excel. We offer small classes of 15 and individual contracts with high-quality working conditions – equivalent to the Collective Agreement. If you are seeking a teaching opportunity to make a difference for our youth and want to work in idyllic surroundings, we welcome your application.

 

Have they forgotten what they were established to do? They have to show that our ‘long tail of underachievement’ is all a result of the lazy, incompetent teachers hiding behind exactly such outdated protections as collective agreements.

 

 (Before you rush off to apply for these jobs, they’re now advertising three positions. Out of four teachers. Within two months of opening.)

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One of the criticisms of yesterday’s announcement is that this is performance pay by stealth. Have a look here, here or here for examples.

It’s reasonable to be wary of this, from a Minister who said in the past that it something she’s considering.

PPTA’s position on performance pay is clear. In 2012 the Executive affirmed a long held stance rejecting “discriminatory performance pay for teachers”.  Nothing has changed since then.

The word ‘discriminatory’ is significant. To some extent teaching, like any other profession, already has elements of performance pay. And I don’t think anyone would argue with that.  At the most basic level, if you don’t perform at all, i.e. turn up, do what is required like finish your reports and keep your classes gainfully occupied, then you lose your job.

But there is a lot more to it than that. When performance pay is used, in teaching or other jobs, there various ways performance is measured. And in actuality, piece-work type employment, like apple picking, where the outputs are easily quantified, and the work is generally menial and repetitive is the only area where ‘pure performance pay’ happens regularly.

In most other professions there are some sorts of more or less subjective judgements made about how well someone is doing their job, or how much of it they are doing, which help determine whether or not they keep it, or get paid more or less.

And teaching is not that different. Except that one advantage teaching has, thanks in part to the strong collective agreement that covers our employment is that those judgements tend towards being less subjective and more transparent than in other workplaces.

The three areas in which teachers’ performance already impacts on their pay are:

  • Their qualifications – a proxy for ‘quality’ – not always the best, but certainly a reasonable indication of a level of skill and knowledge that will enable you to be a better teacher. Teachers with lower level qualifications earn less.
  • Attestation that teachers are meeting standards. There are two sets of standards that teachers need to meet – professional standards in the collective agreement to get pay increases and registered teacher criteria to continue to hold a practising certificate. Teachers have to show that they are meeting these standards – which are broad and reasonably holistic, and were collaboratively developed.
  • Pay for extra duties or responsibilities. Teachers who ‘do more’  - whether it’s leading a department or taking responsibility for some significant extra-curricular activities can get more money – this is what units are for. This is clearly a performance related pay – more work leads to extra pay.


So, hardly a ‘soviet car factory’ as some would suggest.

The second and third of these three areas are clearly where these new roles of ‘Expert Teacher’ and ‘Lead Teacher’ fit. They will have standards that teachers will need to meet to get the job – standards we’ll be involved in developing and which won’t (because we’ll make sure they don’t) place undue weight on reductive ‘measurables’. And these roles have extra duties and responsibilities attached – for sharing good practice, leading collaboration and encouraging innovation. Like the Specialist Classroom Teacher, which we fought for the in the 2004 Collective agreement round – they are a career pathway for teachers who have something else to offer their colleagues and the system as a whole, and in a role that is not simply ‘management’ of the school. And ideally – we’d like to see the third of these – qualifications be introduced to give them a further degree of objectivity and removal from school management control.

Performance pay becomes ‘discriminatory’ when it is competitive and rationed, and that’s where we have concerns. The position that we took in 2012 was that, if a performance pay system would pit teachers against each other in competition for a limited number of bonuses or recognise one type of easily quantifiable contribution to the school more than another less easily quantifiable one, then it would be resisted. At the time the Executive agreed that

“Discriminatory performance pay is a tool to control teachers and minimise the costs and responsibility of government for delivering equitable and high quality education to all. Some of its implications include:

  •  Changing the motivation of teachers from the intrinsic reward of seeing students learn to the extrinsic reward of a better pay packet
  •  Breaking down collegial and collaborative relationships, and replacing them with competitive ones
  • Increasing the recruitment and retention challenges for low decile schools
  • Ensuring that some students are taught by teachers to be deemed less effective, but remain teaching on a lower pay rate
  • Forcing schools into bidding wars for teachers in areas of subject shortages
  • Making it easier for inadequate educational leaders to command superficial compliance from teachers, at the cost of genuine motivation and buy in.
  • Undermining the morale of the teaching profession”


The new roles of ‘Expert Teacher’ and ‘Lead Teacher’ (the names are naff, I don’t know many teachers who will put their hands up and say, “Yep, I’m an expert”) don’t come with bonuses – but with extra pay for actual an actual job. There are always a limited number of positions – whether Principal or Head of Department. Roles that are focussed on mentoring other teachers rather than managing them, and sharing good teaching practice rather than developing it in isolation are fantastic – and in stark contrast to simply giving extra cash to a teacher who wrings the most ‘value added’ out of their students.

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