An Incentive To Cheat (Part 2)

Given the small but select bunch that read this blog, it was highly unlikely that it was read by Government ministers. Which is a pity because if they had read this they migt not have come up with this bright idea – financial incentives for schools to dramatically improve.

Since I wrote “An Incentive to Cheat” it has been revealed that four schools (St. Charles’ Roman Catholic Primary in Liverpool, Brockswood Primary in Hemel Hempstead, St Bernadette Roman Catholic Primary in St Albans and Springfield Community Primary in Hackney) have been stripped of all their SATS results because of cheating and a fifth (William Cowper Primary in Birmingham) has had its English results annulled.

Despite this, our market-obsessed Government has decided that the best way to get schools to improve is to offer cash prizes – called “premium payments” to the most dramatic improvers.

In my opinion, this policy will increase cheating beyond that which happens at the moment. The great majority of teachers will not sell their professional souls for financial gain and most of the rest see clearly that a league table position boosted by cheating does not alter the actual education received by the pupils one jot. When money for the school is on offer, emotional blackmail comes into play:- “If our results improve we can increase spending on our pupils and genuinely improve their education”. This one is going to be a lot harder to resist.

Peter Tymms, an exam expert at Durham University, is also not impressed. Saturday’s Guardian quotes him as saying that this would “build a bias into the system” and that “Paying schools for results is absolutely absurd, what kind of incentive is that for teachers?”

His answer is in my title.

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4 Responses to “An Incentive To Cheat (Part 2)”

  1. dvnutrix Says:

    This is horribly sad. You called it some time ago. Just who do these powers-that-be decide who they will pay attention to on such matters? one thing is for sure, they don’t listen to anyone with direct, recent experience.

    I’m sorry that this is happening around you; demoralising doesn’t begin to cover this grisly situation.

  2. pyjamasinbananas Says:

    I just can’t understand the government’s use of financial incentives or penalties to drive ‘competition’ in the public sector. It doesn’t even make sense from a capitalist perspective because public sector institutions are not primarily driven by financial considerations, and institutions cannot be forced to fail, with others taking up the slack, because they are part of a geographically distributed national system that requires minimum standards of delivery.

    If I was forced to speculate, I would say that it is because government advisors and policy makers are irredeemably stupid, or at least so psychologically inflexible that they are utterly unable to understand the systems they are seeking to influence, preferring instead to offer up ideologically preformed solutions.

  3. darthtater Says:

    Of course you’re right. The pressure on you to skirt around the regulations covering internal assessment (“coursework”) in GCSEs is huge if you are in a school under pressure to rapidly improve results. Playing with people’s sense of right and wrong in this way has to be a major cause of stress in the teaching profession. I say scrap coursework in all subjects now. It can’t be right for work to be assessed by one witha vested interest (financial or career-saving) in the outcome.

  4. dvnutrix Says:

    Related to this – NYT has a blog post on a study about teacher burnout in which over-bearing parents and unsupportive admin people play their part. The comments are particularly interesting and a number seem to reflect teachers’ experience in the UK.

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