Teachers’ Pay All change from September 2013

17 Apr

The Government accepted all the recommendations in the 21st report of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB). The STRB proposed radical changes to how teachers are paid from 1 September 2013.  Increases in teachers’ salaries will be based on how well – or otherwise – they do in their performance reviews and will not be automatic for those on the main scale except for those that are the subject of capability procedures, which is the current practice.

On 21 February 2012, the Secretary of State for Education asked the STRB to review current provision for teachers’ pay with a view to raising the status of the profession and contributing to improving the standard of teaching in our schools. The STRB’s 21st report was in response to that remit.

I           The new arrangements

The key recommendations in the STRB’s report which the government accepted were as follows.

(1)        Increments based on the length of service will be replaced by differentiated progression through the main pay scale to reward excellence and performance improvement.

(2)        The arrangements will extend to all teachers’ pay progression, which will be linked to annual appraisals (already established for more senior teachers on the leadership scale). Appraisal will be based on a single set of teaching standards, and individual objectives with a strong emphasis on professional development.

(3)        Mandatory pay points within the pay scales for classroom teachers will be abolished to enable individual pay decisions, but with the pay points retained for reference only in the main pay scale to guide career expectations for entrants to the profession.

(4)        A broad national framework will be retained, including the higher pay bands for London and fringe areas and an upper pay scale as a career path for experienced teachers who make a wider contribution to the school.

(5)        The detailed threshold test for progression from the main to the upper pay scale will be replaced with simple criteria based on one set of teacher standards. The aim of this provision is to create a consistent progression path from graduate entry to the top of the upper pay scale and allow schools to promote the best teachers more rapidly.

(6)        The arrangements will enable local flexibility for schools to create posts paying salaries above the upper pay scale, enabling some of the very best teachers to remain in the classroom and lead to the improvement of teaching skills.

(7)        Schools will be given more discretion in the use of allowances for recruitment and retention and freedom to pay fixed-term responsibility allowances of up to £2,500 a year for time-limited projects.

(8)        There will be a reinforcement of the responsibility of headteachers to manage staff and resources and of governing bodies to hold school leaders to account for managing and rewarding the performance of teachers in the interests of pupils.

(9)        On the basis of the above, the government will introduce a much simplified School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document, including a brief guide to the national framework and the flexibilities open to schools.

II          Some questions answered

On the website of the Department for Education, civil servants provided answers to questions that stakeholders have been asking.  These are as follows.

(1)        Why does the Secretary of State want to reform teachers’ pay?

Improving the quality of teaching is essential to driving up school standards and raising the attainment of pupils. Therefore the new arrangements for teachers’ pay (aim to)

(i)                 reward good performance and attract the highest performing graduates and professionals into the profession;

(ii)               give schools as much freedom as possible to spend their money as they see fit to meet their pupils’ needs;

(iii)             ensure the best teachers are incentivised to work in the most challenging schools; and

(iv)              provide good value for money for the taxpayer.

The government is of the view that the current teachers’ pay system is rigid, complex and difficult to navigate.  It does not support schools in recruiting and retaining the high-quality teachers or leaders to address specific shortages and benefit their pupils.

Evidence shows that under the current system:

(a)        automatic pay progression means there is a poor correlation between a teacher’s performance and reward; and

(b)        schools in some parts of the country struggle to recruit and retain good teachers.

This provides a strong case for reform, to free up the current system of teachers’ pay to support greater school autonomy.

(2)         What is being recommended?

The STRB report recommended

(i)                 linking all pay progression to performance;

(ii)               removing automatic progression based on time served;

(iii)             giving schools the option of awarding differential pay progression based on performance;

(iv)              giving schools greater scope to pay high performers more;

(v)                replacing the current threshold test for progression from the main to the upper pay scale with simple criteria based on one set of teacher standards; and

(vi)              more discretion for schools in the use of allowances for recruitment and retention.

(3)        Do the STRB’s recommendations meet the Secretary of State’s ambitions for

            reform?

The government believes they represent a significant step towards meeting its objectives for pay reform in the teaching profession. They will make it easier for schools to meet their local needs, reward and promote good teachers, ensure accountability at a local level for the quality of teaching and raise the status of teaching as a profession.

(4)         Why do you think that performance pay will make a difference?

The government is of the view that high-performing teachers drive up pupils’ attainment and needs a system that recognises this. Strengthening the link between performance and pay is fundamental so that high-performing teachers are properly rewarded for the impact that they are having on their pupils’ achievements.

(5)         If it is left to the discretion of headteachers to decide on the pay of their staff, won’t this lead to less rather than greater transparency?

The government thinks not. Pay arrangements in any school will need to be set out clearly in the school’s pay policy so that all teachers are clear on how their performance will be linked to pay and the use that will be made of any appraisal information.

(6)         Does this mean that headteachers will be able to cut teachers’ pay?

The new arrangements proscribe this from occurring.  Nobody will have her/his pay cut as a result of the recommendations. The aim is not to cut the pay of hard-working teachers, but to create a stronger link between pay and performance that will help schools to recruit and retain the best and highest quality teachers, and to incentivise excellent teaching. It cannot be right that in the pay system poor teaching is tolerated and even rewarded by automatic pay progression. The government wishes to give school leaders greater autonomy to manage their schools and their funding in the way they wish. This includes freeing up headteachers to pay their teachers what they consider an appropriate wage.

(7)         What about headteachers’ pay? Are you just making these changes for teachers and not headteachers?

An element of linkage between pay and performance already exists for headteachers and others in leadership positions, but there may be scope for more flexibility and simplification in respect of the current system. The STRB itself has recognised that there is a case for considering how the pay of the leadership group may need to change to bring it in line with any proposed changes to teachers’ pay. This is one area that the government may wish to come back to in a future remit to the STRB.

(8)         What will happen to those teachers who are currently on the Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) and Excellent Teacher (ET) scales?

The recommendations provide for the creation of posts that will pay salaries above the upper pay scale and that will enable some of the very best teachers to remain in the classroom to demonstrate excellent teaching and lead the improvement of teaching skills. It will be for individual schools to decide whether or not to create such posts and whether or not to move existing ASTs and ETs into those posts.

(9)         What happens to teachers who were expecting to apply for threshold this year?

The arrangements for Round 13 threshold applications that are set out in the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) 2012 will continue to apply during the lifetime of that document.

(10)       Do you think that schools have the capacity to deal with all these proposed changes? Won’t this distract headteachers from focusing on teaching and learning?

There is already a lot of experience in the system of linking pay to performance on the upper pay scale and in relation to leadership group pay. The government believes that schools will be able to build on this.

(11)       How can you ensure that schools implement performance-related pay in a fair and equitable manner? Is there not a risk that schools will see an increase in equal pay challenges?

Schools will need to develop systematic and transparent arrangements for both appraisal and pay. In England, the appraisal regulations and the Department’s model appraisal policy, which require appraisal against the Teachers’ Standards, provide a framework which can be developed by individual schools to meet their specific circumstances. There will be a crucial role for governing bodies to ensure that the arrangements put in place are appropriate and hold headteachers to account.

The STRB recommended that the Department for Education provides guidance or a toolkit to help schools develop systematic and transparent local approaches to pay progression. The DfE proposes to accept this recommendation.

(12)       Are governing bodies equipped and skilled to ensure headteachers stick to the rules? What will they need to do differently?

The government recognises that governing bodies and headteachers are likely to find this a challenging process. Its expectation is that all schools will need to review and revise their pay policies to reflect the changes and to clarify their approach to making pay decisions. There may also need to be changes to school appraisal policies to reflect closer links between performance and pay. Some schools may want to review their staffing structures. (Changes may arise from the removal of separate ET and AST roles.) Some schools may want to review their current arrangements for allowances to take advantage of the new flexibilities available to them. The government thinks some schools may well welcome central guidance to help them deal with these changes. That is why the DfE is proposing to accept the STRB’s recommendation that it offers schools some guidance, or a toolkit to help them develop their local policies.

(13)       Isn’t this just a further dilution of teachers’ pay and conditions and the latest stage in the Government’s attack on the profession?

Again, the government doesn’t think this is an attack on hard-working teachers or school leaders. Its objective, it states, is to ensure that schools and school leaders have greater flexibility to use the pay system to attract the teachers they need and to incentivise good performance to ensure pupils receive the very best education, wherever they live.

III        Discussion

(i)         Advanced Skills Teacher and Excellent Teacher

It’s worth expanding, at this point, on how Advanced Skills Teachers and Excellent Teachers are to be paid under the new arrangements. At the moment, the governing body chooses a five-point range from the first 18 leadership points for the AST’s salary.   An ET is paid a spot salary in the same salary range as an AST and subject to similar working conditions as other classroom teachers.

Applications for both schemes are subject to external assessment against the relevant post threshold, advanced skills or excellent teachers’ standards.

In the new scheme, a headteacher will be charged with identifying a distinctive post for the AST or ET whose primary purpose will be to model and lead the improvement of teaching skills.  The governing body, consequently, will be given the flexibility of creating a post paying a salary higher than the maximum on the upper pay scale.  The governing body will be permitted to create a salary range appropriate to the specific post for the AST or ET – i.e. from £37,461 to £56,950 (in England and Wales – excluding the London area), £44,540 to 64,036 (for those in Inner London), £40,433 to £59,925 (for those in Outer London) and £38,493 to £57,985 (for those working in the London Fringe). This is on the Leadership Scale – points 1 to 18.  Progression on the range of five points will be dependent on the performance of the staff member.

In fixing the range, the school should take account of the challenge and demands of the post, be mindful of pay relativities and be mindful of available funding in the budget. Where the governing body creates more than one such post, the salary range of each should be determined separately and the staff member remunerated according to the demands of the post.   The criteria for appointing to the post must include excellence in teaching and a contribution to leading the improvement of teaching skills within and/or beyond the school.

Those appointed to what is currently defined as an AST or ET position must have a sustained track record of successful performance as a teacher on the upper pay scale.  While such posts focus on pedagogy rather than line management responsibilities, there will be no bar in awarding extra teaching and learning responsibility (TLR) allowances for allocating extra duties to these teachers.

(ii)        Charting a way ahead

At the time of writing, the government has yet to publish a toolkit, which it promised, setting out advice on how a governing body should operate the new arrangements.   I trust that the toolkit will have an appropriate model pay policy on which schools can base theirs.

Whatever the model policy states (or doesn’t) it will be crucial for the governing body to strengthen the remit of the pay committee which, among other things should contain the following responsibilities/terms of reference.

(a)        Achieve the aims of the whole school pay policy in a fair manner.

(b)        Apply criteria set by the whole school pay policy in determining the pay of each member of staff at the annual review.

(c)        Observe all statutory and contractual obligations.

(d)        Minute/record clearly the reasons for all decisions and report these decisions – in a generic manner – to the next meeting of the full governing body.

(e)        Recommend to the governing body the annual budget needed for pay, bearing in mind the requirement to ensure the availability of monies to support any exercise of discretion.  The pay committee will also recommend that the governing body makes application for any additional funding available to support this process.

(f)        Keep abreast of relevant improvements and advise the governing body when the school’s pay policy needs to be revised.

(g)        Appoint members to carry out the performance review/appraisal of the headteacher.

(h)        Appoint the school improvement partner who will work with the responsible governors to carry out the performance review of the headteacher.

(i)         Work with the headteacher in ensuring that the governing body complies with the appraisal regulations.

It’s important to bear in mind that the minutes of the pay committee are confidential to the members of that committee and available only to the chair of governors (if she/he is not a member of the pay committee).  However, the headteacher of a school should report to the full governing body at least once annually how the pay arrangements are working and what strong links were made in practice to the performance review of staff.  In other words, in an anonymised manner, the headteacher should apprise governors of how well teachers are teaching and what measures are being taken to reward them appropriately and/or take action to improve performance.

The arrangements have to be robust, scrupulous, fair and transparent.  To secure this, the governing body, with the headteacher taking the lead, should construct a code of practice – which must be the subject of consultation with staff – to apply the policy.

While the regulations moving schools to this new system take effect on 1 September 2013, most of the provisions – e.g. reviewing the performance of teachers and making decisions on their salaries – will take effect only on 1 September 2014.  However, should a teacher wish to apply for a new post, she/he needs to be aware that no more will there be salary protection.  Rather, the teacher will have to accept the salary that the receiving school offers should she/he be appointed to the post.

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