Gove imposes performance-related pay for teachers

15 Jan 13
Education Secretary Michael Gove has angered unions by confirming that he will press ahead with performance-related pay for teachers.

By Vivienne Russell | 15 January 2013

Education Secretary Michael Gove has angered unions by confirming that he will press ahead with performance-related pay for teachers.

Last year, the teachers’ pay review body recommended moving away from national pay bargaining and its proposal was put out for consultation.

A new, national pay framework for teachers, to come in from September, will end the link between pay increases and length of service. Instead, earnings progression will be linked to performance based on annual appraisals.

Mandatory points on the pay scale will also be abolished, giving schools more freedom over how much to pay teachers. Higher pay bands for teachers in London and fringe areas will remain.

Accepting the review body’s recommendation back in December, Gove said they would make teaching a more attractive career as well as giving schools the freedom to respond flexibly to specific conditions and recruit the best teachers.

But teaching unions said the decision would weaken teachers’ morale and generate recruitment and retention problems.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘Some 25,000 schools deciding their own pay structures is a real distraction from the teaching and learning that should be the focus of schools’ work. Individual pay decisions will result in unfairness and less mobility in the teacher job market.

‘Performance-related pay is fundamentally inappropriate for teaching, where educational outcomes are based on teamwork and the cumulative contribution of a number of teachers. The national pay structure provides a coherent framework for career progression and is essential to attract graduates into the profession. To get rid of it will certainly have an impact on recruitment and retention.’

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, agreed that performance-related pay would deter the best graduates from pursuing a teaching career.

‘It has nothing to do with improving education standards, but everything to do with saving money at the expense of children,’ she said.

‘Since schools won’t see any increase in funding, it is hard to see how schools will be able to pay any of their teachers more money unless they cut the salaries or number of other teachers or other staff. It is a mystery how this will enable schools in deprived areas to attract the best teachers.’

But Bousted added that the ATL would work with the government to ensure the final pay framework was fair and transparent.

Head teachers gave a cautious welcome to the changes but the Association of School and College Leaders reiterated their concerns that it would be difficult to make performance-related pay work in a climate of budget constraint.

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