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Government favours decent rise in teachers’ salaries

13 Apr

On 18 September 2019, Secretary of State, Gavin Williamson, wrote to Dr Patricia Rice, the Chair of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), signalling the need to support the recruitment and retention of teachers and ensure that the substantial increase in school/academy funding announced by the government is invested as effectively as possible.  This was to include a significant uplift in the starting salary of classroom teachers.

Following on from this, it set out the government’s intention to increase starting salaries to £30,000 nationally by September 2022. The letter made a strong case for schools and academies to move “towards a less steep pay progression structure compared to what is currently typical in the early years of a teacher’s career, with lower average percentage increases between each pay point on the main pay range, alongside significantly higher starting and early career salaries”.

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Main-scale teachers to receive a 3.5% increase in salaries but funding shortages deepens gloom

17 Aug

Shortly after the schools and academies closed for the summer term 2018, the government announced on 24 July 2018 – the last day of Parliament – the pay rises for teachers.

The awards were as follows.

  • 5% uplift to the minimum and maximum of the main pay range (MPR), which means that the salary of a teacher could rise from £1,184 to £1,366.
  • 2% uplift to the minimum and maximum of the upper pay range (UPR)
  • 5% uplift to the minimum and maximum of the leadership pay range

Academies do not have to comply with the Pay and Conditions Regulations and grant the pay increases, but schools must.    Schools have flexibility about pay rises on the points in between.  However, the teacher unions have warned that those that fail to pass on the full pay rise to teachers will face an ‘industrial relations disaster’.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, told The Times Educational Supplement: “We have already heard from members on the last day of term [when the pay award was announced] whose school leaders have said, ‘Well, we can’t afford to pay.’ We expect the award to be paid in full to all members.”   She added that the NEU would be “monitoring that situation very closely”.  This is unsurprising, especially in the light of the DfE data that shows the percentage of academy trusts in deficit increased to 6.1% in 2016-17, a 0.6% rise on the previous year.

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Minding the Gender Pay Gap

20 Apr

According to Helen Ward of The Times Educational Supplement (TES), “The gender pay gap data returns are shaping up to create some of the most explosive spreadsheets the education sector has seen for years. Unions are even warning that the revelations could upend the female-friendly face of teaching, with some schools harbouring pay gaps way above the national average.”

By 31 March 2018, all public bodies (including schools, academies and trusts each of which has over 250 employees) had to submit to the government data on the mean pay gap, the median pay gap, the distribution of men and women across the pay scale, and the differences in the number and size of bonus payments.     For the private sector (including private schools), the data was submitted by 5 April 2018.

It is likely that this will be the subject of another league table.  However, the legislation permits local authorities to exclude data on their schools’ employees. Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) with over 250 employees, however, will be in a bind to engage in yet more bureaucracy.   It was Harriet Harman, during the “reign” of Gordon Brown, who introduced the legislation which was supported by Prime Minister Theresa May.   The gender pay gap data is opening our eyes to an egregious aspect of inequality. To understand the reasons for this, there may be merit in giving our researchers time and space to study and analyse the figures.

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Justine Greening gives education a financial uplift

18 Aug

I        Introduction

On 17 July 2017, the Education Secretary, Justine Greening, pledged an extra £1.3 billion to schools and academies over the next two financial years in an announcement in parliament.  The aim is to provide a per-pupil increase of at least 0.5% for every school/academy in 2018/19 and 2019/20.

While this is welcome, the reality is that instead of a significant cut in the budget, it will be a real-term freeze from now to 31 March 2020.  Over a four-year period up to that point, schools/academies will face a 4.6% cut in their finances, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS). Education spending in the UK is expected to shrink from 4.4% of the gross domestic product to 3.8%. Today, the government spends 18% more on state pensions than on education.   Unsurprisingly, the teacher unions are calling for an extra £2 billion a year.

According to its manifesto in the run-up to the 8 June 2017 election, the Conservatives promised to raise the schools’ budget by £4 billion by 2022 to ensure that no school lost out under the National Funding Formula (NFF) which is to be introduced in the next financial year.   The IFS is of the view that Ms Greening’s promise is more generous than plans in her party’s manifesto and matches those of the Liberal Democrats.

While it will be up to Local Educational Authorities (LEAs) to act as post men and women when distributing the budgets to schools following the government allocation, Ms Greening is introducing a minimum level of per-pupil spending in 2019-20 set at £4,800 for every secondary school/academy.  (The minimum funding level per pupil for primary schools has yet to be announced at the time of writing.)   While youngsters in Berkshire will benefit from rise in the current per-pupil secondary funding of £3,991, those in Tower Hamlets where the per-pupil funding is £6,906 will have to endure the reduced pain of lesser financial cuts than expected.

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Trusts need to do more to curb the salaries of MAT CEOs

18 Apr

On 15 December 2016, the government launched the second-stage consultation on a National Funding Formula – the same day on which the National Audit Office warned that schools in England were facing a cut of 8% per pupil in real terms by 2019/20 which translates into £3 billion.

The proposed formula – for which consultations have now closed – will result in over 9,000 schools/academies losing out.  Money will disappear from London and other urban areas and moving to schools/academies – mainly in the shire counties – which currently receive less.  However, 11,000 (circa) schools/academies will gain, albeit they will see much lower increases than they had been made to believe because at the 9,000+ schools/academies the reductions will be phased in.

Education has enjoyed more than seven years of plenty with those in the profession drinking deeply from the financial well of generous governments.   Schools/academies that have been spendthrifts will suffer. Those who have been over-careful had been severely berated by their local authorities and the government for not giving their (current) pupils their just financial desserts.   Those that had been judicious and saved enough for a rainy day, will postpone suffering for a few years.

In the long-term, most schools/academies will have to provide more with less simply to survive, if not flourish.

It is, therefore, not with a little surprise and angst that I read the piece written by The Secret CEO (in The Times Educational Supplement of 31 March 2017).  The poor guy (his silhouette at the end of the article suggests that it is a “he”), who leads a multi-academy trust “somewhere in England” is “fed up” (the unfortunate devil) with reading “article after article about the ‘shocking’ salaries CEOs of MATs receive”.  He spends the entire article criticising critics for criticising the Chief Education Officers of Multi-Academy Trusts over the salaries they receive.

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Teachers’ Performance Reviews – One Year On

3 Jan

I        Background and Context

The link between the performance management of headteachers and deputy headteachers in England and the salaries they receive has been in existence since 2000.   However, it was only in September 2013 that all teachers became the subjects of annual performance reviews linked to pay.  Performance reviews go by the name of appraisals in the business world. For the purpose of this article, I will stay with “performance reviews”.

Autumn 2014 saw the end of the first cycle.  During the term, governors formally reviewed how the system worked or didn’t.    The researchers are busily beavering away to assess the success of teachers’ performance linked with pay.  However, it would be apposite to make a few observations based on first-hand experiences and anecdotal evidence, and signal health warnings to improve the process for teachers, school managers and, most important, the children.

In the autumn of 2013, teachers were made aware of the fact that, for the first time, they would not receive increases if they simply performed satisfactorily – or, to use the Ofsted terminology – required improvement.   Previously, a salary increase was withheld only if a teacher was the subject of the capability procedure.

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Proposal to establish Royal College of Teaching develops head of steam

3 Jan

The College of Teachers has been garnering support from the great and the good to establish a Royal College of Teaching.   In mid-December 2014, the Secretary of State, Nicky Morgan, announced that government funding could be made available to get the project off the ground. According to the College’s web-post, the Royal College will be founded on a revamped Royal Charter updated to reflect the needs of a modern fit-for-purpose chartered professional association.

In 2012, all three main political parties supported the Education Selection Committee’s recommendation to establish a College of Teaching which would enhance the profession’s standing in society.   Were such a college established and have the royal tag to it, the body would be charged with setting high standards of practice, require the members to follow a professional code of practice, act ethically and, (this will please Tristam Hunt, the Shadow Education Secretary) possibly require teachers to take a Hippocratic-style oath.   (At present, teachers are more inclined to vent their spleens with other oaths given the pressures placed on them.)

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The School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) publishes 24th report

25 Aug

The School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), the government quango which examines and reports on school teachers’ pay and conditions making recommendations to the Secretary of State, published its 24th report on 10 June 2014 recommending how the average 1% public sector pay uplift should be applied to teachers’ pay.

The STRB mentioned in its report that the increasing demand for school places would require more and more teachers. As the economy recovered, it saw the pay between teaching graduates and other graduates widening, which could discourage people from entering the profession.

The STRB noted that schools had been given more freedom when making pay decisions, recognised that the system was in transition and took this into account in its recommendations. Its key recommendations were as follows.

(i)            A 1% pay rise should be applied to the minimum and maximum of all the pay ranges and allowances in the national framework.

(ii)           For those teachers on individual pay ranges (leadership posts or leading practitioners) it will be for the school to decide how to take account of uplifts in accordance with the sums in the leadership scale.

(iii)          The Department for Education (DfE) should increase discretionary reference points [included in the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) 2013 to aid schools in the transition to performance-related pay progression] by 1% for the September 2014 pay decisions, but then remove them from the document.

(iv)         The DfE should make clear that all schools should revise their pay policies for 2014-15 and set locally determined arrangements for performance-related progression.

(v)          The DfE should clarify in its advice to schools the scope for the most able teachers to progress rapidly through the main and upper pay ranges where justified.

(vi)        In a statement issued on the same day, the former Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, indicated that, subject to consultation, he intended to accept the recommendations. This has now been done.

Support for Performance Related Pay Grows with Teachers

25 Aug

September 2014 will be the end of the first full-year cycle in which teachers’ pay is tied to their performance.   The experiences of school teachers, headteachers and governors have been varied.  However, what is especially significant is that a survey by the National Foundation for Educational Research  (NFER) (see here) commissioned by the Sutton Trust revealed that there is a growing head of steam among teachers to support the link between performance appraisals salaries than when the policy was first introduced by the former secretary of state, Michael Gove.

Teacher appraisals were introduced by the Labour Government in 2000.   Performance reviews had a sharp edge for all staff on the upper pay spine and the leadership scale in that increases were predicated on good, if not outstanding, appraisals.   This was extended to all teachers in September 2013 to take effect a year later.  It replaces increases given to teachers who perform at least satisfactorily – based on their lengths of service.

Altogether, 1,163 teachers were surveyed by the NFER.  Of them, 55% primary and 52% secondary teachers favoured the criteria of good pupil progress and achievements being deployed to determine salary increases.

When asked which criteria should be used to decide on pay progression, the three most popular were the following.

(i)            Assessment by more senior staff – such as line managers. This was supported by 60% of teachers and was more popular among secondary staff.

(ii)           Assessment by the headteachers. This was supported by 54% of teachers and was more popular among primary staff.

(iii)          Consideration of the progress and results of pupils currently taught. This was backed by 53% of teachers.   Continue reading

School Teachers’ Review Body’s recommendations accepted

24 Apr

On 13 February 2014, the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, presented Parliament with the 23rd report of the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) together with his response to the report’s recommendations by way of a Written Ministerial Statement.

The STRB, an independent body, makes proposals to the Secretary of State on school’s teachers’ pay and conditions in England and Wales.   It receives the views of stakeholders, carries out analysis, reflects on it and writes its reports which are then presented to ministers.

On this occasion, the STRB made three recommendations to the Secretary of State. Continue reading