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Performance-related pay in schools ‘may fuel exam fraud’

Performance Pay, Quality, Teacher performance

Telegraph

26 April, 2013

A new system of performance-related pay in schools risks fueling a rise in fraud as teachers attempt to falsify pupils’ results to win salary rises, lawyers warned today.

Teachers could be tempted to “over-egg” children’s work to prove they are doing a good job, it was claimed.

The proposals will also lead to major employment disputes within schools as teachers lodge official discrimination claims after failing to receive higher pay.

The comments came after the publication of Government guidance last week that suggested teachers should be denied pay rises for failing to improve pupils’ exam results, keep order in the classroom or take part in extra-curricular activities.

Schools were also told to get the views of pupils and parents before making decisions over teachers’ performance.

The advice was made after the Government approved controversial plans to abolish annual pay rises based on length of service.

From September, heads will be given complete freedom to pay the best teachers more money within a minimum and maximum threshold.

But on Friday it was claimed that the move could lead to a rise in teachers attempting to cheat to earn more money.

Mark Leach, employment partner at law firm Weightmans, told the Times Educational Supplement: “There is the potential for fraud, particularly if there is lots of classroom-based work. There has to be the potential for that to increase.

“Where you link performance to reward, there is the potential for performance to be over-egged.”

Last year, 130 penalties were issued to schools and colleges for cheating in GCSEs and A-levels – more than double the number just 12 months earlier.

Five institutions were stripped of the power to run their own exams altogether and one school had its exam entries suspended.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the new pay system was “almost asking for trouble”.

“With any major change, there will be a rise in people testing the edges of [what is permitted],” he said.

In separate comments, Mr Leach said the performance-related pay system had the potential to fuel discrimination claims.

Schools must be careful to ensure they impose a completely transparent method of calculating pay awards, he said, adding: “Where that is not seen to be in place, that is when complaints will be made; allegations such as: he only got a rise because he’s white, heterosexual or not too old.

“I can see a real administrative nightmare for schools.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said pay policies “must set out in detail how all pay decisions will be made, including how appraisal outcomes are linked to these decisions.”

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