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Teachers 'back pay for performance'

Teachers are in favour of proposals which would stop under-performing colleagues being awarded pay rises, a survey suggests.

Research commissioned by the Sutton Trust claims that many teachers are in favour of linking their salaries to performance in the classroom. The poll of almost 1,700 teachers found that just one in four (26%) think that annual salary increases should be given to all teachers.

Around half (52%) thought increases should be awarded to all teachers except those judged to have performed badly, while a further 23% thought that rises should be reserved for those found to have performed well.

The findings come just days after the influential Commons Education Select Committee called for the best teachers to be rewarded with higher pay than their colleagues. The cross-party group of MPs called for the Department for Education to develop a pay system which rewards teachers who add the greatest value to pupil performance.

It said that while introducing such a system potentially has "political and practical difficulties", the impact of a good teacher is "so great" that these must be overcome.

Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has also called for performance-related pay. Speaking at an event in February, he said heads should only reward committed and hard-working staff, and suggested good teachers are "irritated" when their under-performing colleagues are given the same financial incentives.

Under the current system, teachers can see their pay rise, on average, by around £1,800 a year if they are judged to be performing well enough against a set threshold, although in some cases it can increase by up to £5,000. Sir Michael suggested that 92%-93% of teachers meet the threshold, but added that "40% of lessons are less than good".

But while the Sutton Trust's survey indicates that teachers back performance-related pay, many are less keen on Government plans to allow schools to sack weak teachers in a single term. More than half (54%) disagreed with these plans, while just under a third (30%) were in favour. The remainder either did not know or neither agreed nor disagreed.

Sutton Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl said: "It is right that teachers' pay should be related to their performance, and they should also be required to undertake professional development if they are not performing at an effective level.

"We need to strike the right balance between attempting to improve the performance of poorly performing teachers through professional development and our responsibility to safeguard children's right to being taught effectively."