5:40PM UPDATE: The Minister of Education and Economic Development, Dr. the Hon. Grant Gibbons, JP, MP has today clarified the statements attributed to him during a recent interview.

Minister Gibbons stated, “I wish to clarify for the public and Shadow Minister that I have not called for or necessarily endorsed pay incentives for teachers.

“In fact, the issue was not raised by the Junior Minister, Leah Scott, JP, MP or myself during the interview. My response came as a result of a question put forward by the reporter. During our interview, we discussed the importance of improving the quality of teaching – an issue that was highlighted by Professor Hopkins in his 2007 Report on the Bermuda public school system.

“In the interview, I indicated there are a number of tools that can be used to raise the overall quality of teaching in our school system.  Tools areas such as professional development, higher standards for recruitment and raising the bar on teaching qualifications were discussed.  I do find it very interesting that the Shadow Minister is firmly opposed to pay incentives when in fact it was the former Government in 2008 that inserted a specific clause [25B] in the Education Act 1996, which calls for performance recognition including the financial awards to teachers, principals and schools.”

“We are committed to improving our public schools and will continue to consult with the public, parents and key stakeholders on how we can improve education.  Pay incentives and other programmes are ideas we are prepared to consider in consultation with the relevant groups.”

Statement by Walton Brown, Shadow Minister for Education

As Shadow Minister for Education, I will continue to support policies and strategies to improve public education and student performance. Education Minister Gibbons’s call for pay incentives for teachers is not one of them. In fact, it is doubtful Minister Gibbons even discussed this matter with senior Ministry staff as I am certain he would have been told it is an unwise thing to endorse.

While performance bonuses may have merit in the business domain the Minister is most familiar with, much of the research on payment incentives for teachers shows it is fraught with problem, such as the fudging of student results, teachers fighting for the ‘best’ students and in some cases, outright fraud.

The research has shown that performance pay will not improve teaching or learning; it will not attract strong teachers; it will lead to more standardized testing and test preparation at considerable cost in time, money and learning. As a result of such problems, pay incentive programmes in New York City and California were long abandoned.

The Progressive Labour Party is committed to teacher training, on-going and relevant professional development, excellent leadership and adequately resourced schools as critical components in our efforts to improve student performance.