Just ahead of the federal budget, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced performance bonuses of between $5,400 and $8,100 for one in 10 teachers.
Her intention is to arrive at a formulaic process, including test scores. Rewarding teachers for extra effort makes sense, but will the proposed method really be workable?
Jennifer Buckingham, a research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies, says the approach could actually undermine the efforts of some teachers. Instead, she says, decision making should be localised, falling into the hands of each school principal, who knows the staff and can manage the effective implementation of the scheme.
I wonder, though, whether Julia Gillard’s scheme misses the broader problem. Frank Adamson and Linda Darling-Hammond, both from Stanford University, wrote recently about how, in the US, well-qualified teachers tend to teach in higher socio-economic areas. Jennifer Buckinhgam believes this is a big issue here too. It seems, without allocating more funds to disadvantaged areas, Julia Gillard’s plans will not help provide the same opportunity for all children, irrespective of where they live.