It’s been announced that the Federal Government intend to pay bonuses for “the best teachers”. An article has appeared on the ABC website.
When Julia Gillard first floated the idea of new bonuses for teachers of students who’d performed well in NAPLAN, we sort of imagined it would be the school as a whole that benefited, not individual teachers. Our school has worked really hard on literacy and numeracy in recent years; according to NAPLAN, our Year 5 students started low in Year 3 and didn’t necessarily finish high in Year 5, but their improvement from Year 3 to Year 5 was phenomenal. But… who did the “value-adding” of these students anyway? Was it the Year 5 teachers in the first few months of last year, the Year 4 teachers between tests in 2009, or the Year 3 teachers in the last semester of 2008? Who gets paid if a (totally theoretical) teacher was on long service leave, or extended sick leave for the duration of the lead-up to the second NAPLAN test? The talented casual who has long since gone?
What if it was actually our incredibly hardworking STLD, ESL, and Reading Recovery teachers? Or do we, instead, salute our Principal’s leadership? The class teacher who set up a new literacy program and ended up seconded to a DET, now DEC, Priority Schools Program position? The assistant principal who set up a database to track students? The assistant principal who ran the student welfare program? Or our team of “early intervention” parent volunteers and Aboriginal community liaison, who spend hours with little magnetic letters on baking trays, working 1:1 with needy K-3 students? Or our hardworking but very modest teacher-librarian?
Maybe – gasp! – it was all of us: K-6 teachers, support staff, school executive, P&C, volunteers, canteen assistants, general assistant, clerical staff, cleaning staff…, all working together like a sometimes-well-oiled team?
It seems that some of that team is destined to miss out big time. Especially since the new bonus scheme is supposedly three years away. Equity in education?