Teacher Talk: Too much 'performance management' is divisive

Tony Payton, 54, is a physics teacher at Forest Hill School in south London. He is married with two grown-up children and is a member of the NASUWT teachers' union
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The Independent Online


Should science, computing and maths teachers be paid more than other teachers to attract additional recruits to these under-staffed subjects?

No. A good school relies on teamwork. Successive governments have divided staff and reduced teamwork to the detriment of pupils. Too much "performance management" is bad – for example crediting certain teachers who supposedly have advanced skills.

Are you in favour of taking industrial action to demand a 35-hour week?

Well, I'm a housemaster as well as a teacher at my school, and when I took over the job I had 300 students and their records filled two drawers of a filing cabinet. Now I've got 270 and their records take up 10 drawers. The system's crackers. If the Government isn't prepared to get rid of the bureaucracy then I'd say yes to the industrial action. Thousands of qualified teachers are put off by the workload. I know of a school in Southwark where there are 12 unqualified teachers in one school.

Are pupils allowed too much use of calculators?

No. Pupils need to know how to use a calculator. If they don't understand the theory they won't be able to use a calculator properly anyway.

Actually, if you really want to improve children's mental arithmetic it's a good idea to stick them on a market stall for a fortnight.

Do classroom assistants help to reduce the pressure on teachers?

I think a good classroom assistant can improve the delivery of a lesson but the amount of preparation and marking for the teacher is the same.

Is it right for Learndirect – the Government-funded internet learning programme – to sponsor Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

No – this is outrageous – why should state money be given to private companies? And part of the need for Learndirect is being generated by the lack of teachers.

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