Alastair Campbell blogs in delight that he and Camilla Batmanghelidh got more applause for opposing the idea of performance related teachers pay, before an Any Questions audience, than Tim Montgomerie and Mark Littlewood for backing the idea.
Mr Campbell feels that the views of this BBC audience are representative of public opinion. Confusingly, he adds:
Never confuse media opinion with public opinion.
The YouGov poll shows a pretty even split on the subject (47% backing national pay scales, 43% backing performance pay). The relevant verdict will be reached once the new arrangement is in place and the results can be considered.
What do teachers think of performance related pay?
Mr Campbell says:
I visit a fair few schools. My partner Fiona visits a lot more. We know and we meet a lot of heads and a lot of teachers. If Gove is deliberately setting out to become a hate figure, he is making progress.
So that is a discouraging piece of evidence for Mr Gove. On the other hand, rather more heartening, and perhaps more significant, was that earlier this year almost 1,700 teachers from more than 1,200 schools took part in the annual survey, Teachers Voice, which is carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research.
Three quarters of teachers in that survey backed performance pay. Only 26% agreed that "scale points for teachers on the Main Pay Scale be awarded annually" – the status quo where teachers get pay rises based on how long they have been in the job rather than performance. 52% said all teachers should have a pay rise unless they had performed poorly. 26% said only those teachers judged to have performed well should have a rise.
While Mr Campbell says his views are shared by "lots" of teachers he only names one:
One head I met last year, John Tomsett, who runs a brilliant school in York, had a letter in The Guardian yesterday expressing total outrage at Gove’s letter to heads suggesting they dock pay of teachers involved in the current ‘Action short of a strike.’
"Brilliant" is a rather generous description of the Huntington School. It has 63% achieving good GCSEs including English and maths, compared with 62% average for York. Yet its intake means it should be well ahead. The percentage of children on free school meals is 6.4% compared to 9.3% in York and 15.9% nationally. The number with English not as a first language is 0.7% compared with 2.6% as the average in York and 12.3% nationally. That doesn't sound to me like a "brilliant" school; it sounds like a "bog standard comprehensive."
Rather than spending time writing boastful letters to The Guardian and schmoozing with Mr Campbell I suggest that Mr Tomsett should consider why so many schools with much greater challenges than his achieve much better results.
> Yesterday on Comment: What is Alistair Campbell right – and wrong – about?