Planning for performance-related pay

Written by: HTU | Published:

Revised pay and conditions arrangements, including plans for performance-related pay, come into force from September 1. They represent a huge change for our schools. Suzanne O’Connell looks at the implications for schools

The Department for Education (DfE) promotes the Draft 2013 School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document as a much-simplified document that rewards excellence and performance improvement. It includes the move to performance-related pay progression, with the first increases under this new system due to be made in September 2014.

In spite of some strong opposition to the proposals, schools must begin to prepare for their introduction, with revised pay policies required to be in place by this September.

The main changes include the following:
• Removal of automatic pay progression based on length of service – all pay progression will be linked to performance.
• New procedures for moving from the main to the upper pay range.
• Removal of Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) and Excellent Teacher (ET) designations.
• Creation of a new pay range for Leading Practitioners, who lead on the improvement of teaching skills.
• More freedom to set starting salaries.
• Teachers moving from one school to another will no longer be automatically entitled to be paid at the same rate.

Reviewing your pay policy

A first priority for schools is reviewing their policies and the document Departmental Advice: Reviewing and revising your school’s approach to teachers’ pay (April 2013) is aimed at helping schools and their governing bodies to implement the new requirements. It emphasises the flexibility that schools will have in relation to pay and the approaches they choose.

Making decisions

The decision to award a teacher progression up the pay scale will be made according to whether they have met their objectives and the relevant standards. Schools are urged to review their pay policies to demonstrate clearly how appraisal outcomes will be linked to pay decisions.

Your staff will need to understand the basis for decision-making. Even if a teacher does meet his/her objectives it is not an automatic entitlement to pay progression.

The DfE suggests that the level of challenge in the objectives might be taken into account and the teacher should meet all the relevant standards. Under the proposed arrangements, a new teacher does not have to be poor to have progression withheld. The DfE’s guidance document points out that a teacher who does not progress will not necessarily require capability proceedings.

The upper pay range

Movement onto the upper pay range will no longer be based upon length of service. Instead, teachers must satisfy governors that:
• They are highly competent in all elements of the relevant standards.
• Their achievements and contribution to the school are substantial and sustained.

The school will need to set: its deadline for applications, who teachers must apply to, and what evidence they will need to supply. All applications should include results of reviews and appraisals under the 2011 or 2012 regulations.

Leading Practitioners

Teachers who are already classed as being ASTs or ETs will need to be moved into the new structure. Schools will need to decide whether they will be appointed to the new post of Leading Practitioner (LP) or whether they will return to the upper pay range.

The department emphasises that there is no automatic link between the AST/ET roles and the new LP role – although unions have advised that schools are perfectly entitled to transfer ASTs and ETs to the new LP role. Schools will have considerable power to determine the level at which the new LPs will be paid.

Roles and responsibilities

School leaders will be required to develop clear arrangements for linking appraisal to pay progression and propose changes to pay and appraisal policies. You will need to consult staff and unions and submit the resulting policies to the governing body for approval. Teachers must be kept informed and clear records maintained. Governing bodies will need to agree the new pay policy and ultimately approve the teachers’ salaries that are proposed. Keeping the budgetary implications in view will be a key part of their role.

Senior leadership should be reviewing pay policies and submitting for approval to governing bodies during the summer term 2013. Objectives should be finalised in the autumn term and performance monitored throughout the rest of the 2013/14 academic year. Teachers will receive their appraisal report in the summer or autumn terms along with recommendations on pay.

The implications

This is a quick turn around for schools, particularly given the potentially divisive nature of the decisions that heads and governors will have to make. David Weston, chief executive of the Teacher Development Trust, said: “Performance-related pay presents a huge challenge to headteachers. If staff members don’t feel the eligibility criteria are clear and there is unfairness in their application then it could damage morale.

“On the other hand, if used wisely, this provides a new set of incentives which a skilled leader can use to encourage and recognise their teachers’ professional development.”

The National Association of Head Teachers emphasises that performance-related progression needs to be introduced with care, calling for attention to be paid to “key areas of implementation such as providing adequate training for staff and sufficient funds to support the process”.

The National Union of Teachers and NASUWT have been more forthright in their campaign and have issued a joint performance management/appraisal “checklist” for distribution in schools. Education secretary Michael Gove has said the checklist does not meet the statutory requirements, although this has sparked a legal threat from the unions who disagree. For more on this row, see the Headteacher Update news report (link below).

Concerns have been raised by the media about the danger of teachers being pressurised into “adjusting” results. Those who would go this far are hopefully very much in the minority. However, we could see some of the tensions that already exist between key stages arising between teachers in successive year groups.

The freedom that the new pay and conditions do not bring is the freedom to ignore them. Ofsted will act as the policing agent who will be looking to ensure that pay progression is linked to performance – and not just in a token way. Subsidiary guidance makes it clear that inspectors will expect to see a correlation between teaching quality and pay progression. This is likely to have even greater prominence with the onset of the new pay and conditions document.

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has added his comments to the debate by suggesting that headteachers may have to make the decision to increase the size of classes in order to pay staff more. He is quoted as announcing to the right-wing think-tank Reform, “we are going to have to reorganise the way we organise our curriculum, and our group sizes within the school”. Some teachers may prefer to pass the opportunity for a pay rise in favour of a smaller class.

Ultimately, it is the school’s budget that will have the last word. There is anxiety that pay progression, previously a right and expectation, will be too closely linked to the school’s ability to pay.

The DfE suggests that “you will have the freedom to award progression increases as you judge appropriate in your particular circumstances” – these include, presumably, whether you can afford them or not. For some, these changes will represent the opportunity to reward those that deserve it, for others they mean additional expended energy at the expense of the collegiate ethos of their schools.

• Suzanne O’Connell is a freelance writer and former primary headteacher.

Further information
• Draft School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document 2013 and Guidance on School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions, DfE, April 2013
• Departmental Advice: Reviewing and revising your school’s approach to teachers’ pay, DfE, April 2013
• The Headteacher Update news report on the row between the DfE and NUT/NASUWT over the unions' model pay policy and framework;type_uid=76.
• A Guide To Performance-related Pay Progression has been published by SecEd, Headteacher Update’s sister title. This can be downloaded for free at
• Headteacher blog about performance-related pay:

• For more primary education best practice and advisory articles from Headteacher Update, click here.

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