Bonus pay for teachers not enough, warns expert

September 28, 2011, University of Melbourne

Bonus pay for high performing teachers will fail if implemented in isolation, leading educator Professor Stephen Dinham OAM from the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education has warned.

Speaking at a public lecture last night (Tuesday 27 September), Professor Dinham said a new approach to teachers’ salaries must be linked to the introduction of national teaching standards.

“Previous attempts to drive improvement in teacher quality and to attract, retain, recognise and reward accomplished teachers have largely failed,” Professor Dinham said. “One of the key reasons is that such schemes have never been mainstreamed to form an effective salary and career structure.”

According to Professor Dinham, current salary-career structures are in urgent need of attention. Up to 25 per cent of teachers beginning their career resign in the first three years and another resignation spike occurs when teachers reach the top of their pay scales after approximately 10 -12 years.

“The current system not only fails to attract and retain teachers, but it also fails to drive teacher quality. It is loosely connected, outdated and increasingly unattractive. If it doesn’t change, we can expect to slide down the ranks on international measures such as the Program for International Assessment (PISA),” he warned.

Professor Dinham called for the two current agendas of performance pay and national standards to be linked to form a new salary-career structure for teachers.

 “Australia’s new set of national teaching standards provides a vehicle to move to a nationally consistent model of learning, recognition and reward fit,” he said. “After many years of false starts the key pieces of the quality teaching and learning puzzle are quickly coming together.
“To drive improvement quality of teaching and standards must be linked to a new salary structure providing recognition and reward for teachers.”

Professor Dinham said there would be challenges implementing a new career structure for , but recognized the importance in addressing educational disadvantages.

“The biggest equity issue in Australian education today isn’t computers, new buildings or equipment. It’s each student having a quality teacher,” he said.

“Life isn’t fair, but good teaching and good schools are the best means we have of overcoming disadvantage and opening the doors of opportunity for young people.”

Professor Dinham was speaking at the first public event in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education’s new building, at 234 Queensberry Street.

Explore further: The next STEP in science education

Related Stories

The next STEP in science education

August 3, 2011

By many accounts, the picture of science education in the United States is bleak: American students lag their international peers in standardized test scores, fewer of them are studying science and engineering at the university ...

See something? Tell the teacher

November 23, 2010

( -- Many school districts are pushing principals to spend more time in classrooms observing and evaluating teachers but few are using the information they gather to improve education.

Performance pay is a good lesson for education, expert finds

March 13, 2009

Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced a new education reform, calling for a merit-pay system for teachers in hopes of improving student performance. As the nation's public schools spend $187 billion in salaries, based ...

The kids are alright

May 26, 2011

Children should be seen and not heard... who says? A Philosophy academic at The University of Nottingham is challenging the adage by teaching primary school children to argue properly.

Pupils taught to love grammar get better results

September 7, 2011

( -- In what is believed to be the first major study to demonstrate that the teaching of grammar can improve children’s overall writing capabilities, researchers found a quantifiable benefit from a focus ...

Recommended for you

Study sheds new light on ancient human-turkey relationship

January 17, 2018

For the first time, research has uncovered the origins of the earliest domestic turkeys in ancient Mexico. The study also suggests turkeys weren't only prized for their meat—with demand for the birds soaring with the Mayans ...

Lifting barriers to citizenship for low-income immigrants

January 15, 2018

Taking the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony is an emotional moment for many immigrants, and for good reason: it is the culmination of an often arduous process and many years of striving. Citizenship also opens ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.