Premier needs to listen and learn

It amazes me how many politicians are suddenly experts on so many things (“Premier’s plan for merit pay in schools”, June 19). We now have a premier who wants to be known as “the education premier”. How about consulting those who do the job every day, premier? Listen to their needs and suggestions. Performance pay is a sneaky attempt to divide teachers and to reduce the solidarity of the profession. The students who most need the best teachers may not be those who produce the best “results”. Progress and success are based on an accumulation of the work of many, many teachers and other extraneous factors, not one teacher alone. Observation on any one day, like exams, tells only a very small part of the story. Kathleen Chivers, Vincentia

Here we go again – rewards for teacher performance. How will this be measured? student engagement? Student growth? Student well-being? Parent satisfaction? Academic results? All of these vary greatly depending on socio-economic and other conditions. Hopefully it won’t be through NAPLAN results, which are flawed, faulty and fudged by many schools. If there is to be real reform, teachers need to be comprehensively consulted and, in the past, this has rarely happened. Margaret Hogan, Georges Hall

Dominic Perrottet has a recycled idea about paying teachers according to the merit of their work. Let’s take the first step by trialling this with politicians, and then refine it so that it might work with a bigger bunch of people – say teachers and nurses. How do we judge the performance of politicians? How should we pay them? Who makes the decisions? Suggestions welcome. Bruce Morrison, Ingleburn

Every time politicians and education experts start talking about any aspect of teaching, we can be sure of one thing – they don’t know anything about teaching. Now the premier has an idea for merit pay for teachers, in reality another layer of paperwork as teachers document every lesson; what they taught, how they taught it, how it worked or did not work, how to improve it – in fact, all the information that teachers carry in their heads, all day every day, because they are the people in the classroom and all they want is the best outcome for their students. Anne Powter, Dapto

Just when he almost had me fooled, Perrottet reveals his true ideological populism. My teaching wife had just qualified for the last failed “performance-based pay scheme” as an advanced skills teacher, minutes before it was abandoned. Does that mean she doesn’t have to go through the same pointless process again for this one? The capitalist ethos has never worked for education. If teachers are properly qualified, then they all richly deserve a pay increase, and not the insulting pay cut Perrottet is offering. Bruce Mumford, Moss Vale

The premier’s latest announcement on education “reforms” confirms that he learned much from the former PM. Most of the premier’s recent announcements are aimed more at headlines and a pending election than at any true reform or action. The premier’s statement that “teachers were bogged down by administrative work” would be risky if not for the fact that this government has spent the last 11 years deleting thousands of “back office jobs” (school support staff) as they were not “frontline teaching ” roles. Of course the money saved has never been spent directly on improving educational outcomes, and the results are obvious for all to see. Tony Heathwood, Kiama Downs

Perrottet dismisses the NSW Teachers Federation as being “custodians of the past”. I’d like to see the evidence for that. Performance pay for teachers will increase the pressure on school staff, hand more power to the assessment teams and destroy collegiality. Teaching is a team effort. How would you rate a teacher’s efforts? Paper work, last car in the car park, student outcome? Way too hard. Salary isn’t a reward. It’s a right. Beverly Fine, Pagewood

Perrottet’s plan to base teacher pay on performance is both commendable and long-overdue. Rather than offer short-term bribes paid during university years, demonstrating that good teachers can earn salaries similar to other professional careers over the long term is more sustainable. The devil would be in the detail but I imagine results in both and NAPLAN tests and ATAR results would be two of several metrics in the calculation.

A pool of funds could be shared with all teachers in a school based not just on overall results but how much improvement there was from the previous year’s tests. This would promote some team ethos. John Kempler, Rose Bay

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