School heads back performance-related pay for teachers

7 Jan 13
Secondary school heads have cautiously backed plans to extend performance-related pay to all teachers, but warned they might not be practical when school budgets are reducing.
By Vivienne Russell | 7 January 2013

Secondary school heads have cautiously backed plans to extend performance-related pay to all teachers, but warned they might not be practical when school budgets are reducing.

The pay proposals were included in the School Teachers’ Review Body report, published last month alongside the chancellor’s Autumn Statement. Currently, only the most senior teachers are subject to a performance-related pay regime.

The Association of School and College Leaders, which represents 80% of secondary head teachers, said feedback from members had shown a ‘cautious welcome’ for the review body’s proposals.

‘The options currently available to schools for progressing teachers through the pay scale are too blunt,’ said general secretary Brian Lightman.

‘There are clearly cases where a teacher’s performance falls some way short of expectation and therefore it may be appropriate not to award a pay rise. This should be an option available to governing bodies. Likewise there are cases where performance is so exceptional that it would be appropriate to given an additional pay award.’

But Lightman also observed that it would be difficult to link pay to performance during the current period of austerity.

He said: ‘In a climate where budgets are at best static and at worst declining significantly, the corollary of paying some teachers more must be paying other teachers less, or making them redundant. For these flexibilities to work as intended, there must be a fair funding formula which addresses need at regional and institutional level.’

The ASCL is also concerned that performance-related pay would create more work for governing bodies, who have to sign off schools’ pay policies and pay awards.

‘Variations in pay will inevitably generate more appeals to governors. The level of expertise in some governing bodies is insufficient to deal with these issues unless there is significant investment in training,’ Lightman said.

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