Changes to teachers' pay will lead to 'free-for-all', unions warn


Plans to scrap pay scale points for classroom teachers will lead to a "free for all" where pay and career progression are left to "the whim of heads and governors", unions have warned.

It comes after the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) recommended scrapping mandatory pay points and instead linking pay progression for classroom teachers to annual appraisals judged against the new Teachers’ Standards.

The STRB had been asked by education minister Michael Gove to consider plans for performance-related pay as well as proposals to regionalise public sector pay by bringing it in line with the local private sector. This plan could have seen teachers’ pay cut by as much as 18 per cent in some regions.

However, the STRB rejected regionalising public sector pay, and has advised that a “broad national framework” of pay be kept for teachers including a higher pay band for London and fringe areas and the retention of the upper pay scale.

Education minister Michael Gove said he intends to accept the STRB’s recommendations, although he will consider feedback from those who contributed to the study before confirming his response early next year.

It means that classroom teachers’ pay will remain between the current bands of £21,588 to £31,552 for teachers outside London (£27,000 to £36,387 for those in the capital), with increases no longer automatic and now being linked to performance.

The STRB’s proposals will affect state schools, with academy schools already having freedom over setting teachers’ pay.

After the chancellor’s recent autumn statement, Mr Gove also confirmed that there would be a one per cent rise in the minimum and maximum pay band limits for classroom teachers in both 2013/14 and 2014/15.

Dame Patricia Hodgson, chair of the STRB, said: “We believe our recommendations will help schools to recruit, retain and reward the best teachers. It will give heads freedom to manage teachers’ pay according to pupil needs and local circumstances, within a fair national framework.”

Mr Gove added: “These recommendations will give schools great flexibility to respond to specific conditions and reward their best teachers. It is vital that teachers can be paid more without having to leave the classroom.”

However, one union said giving schools powers to fix their own points within the national pay bands was a “flexibility too far”.

Deborah Simpson, professional officer for pay with union Voice, said: “There will be no comparison or parity from school to school and teachers’ pay and career progression will be at the whim of a teacher’s head and governors. Teachers transferring school cannot be guaranteed to maintain their salary level. It will be a free-for-all.”

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) said that linking pay with performance would “undermine any confidence teachers had in appraisal”.

General secretary Christine Blower explained: “All research shows that performance-related pay does not motivate people. Teachers will spend more time teaching to their individual objectives. Headteachers and governors will spend much more time taking individual pay decisions for every teachers.”

The NUT and the NASUWT is currently running a joint work-to-rule campaign in opposition to wider government education policy. The unions said they would be meeting this week to discuss the pay proposals.

Elsewhere, the STRB proposals include a move to simplify the threshold test for teachers moving from the main pay framework to upper pay scale. This again would be based on criteria using the Teachers’ Standards, the STRB has said.

Also, schools should be given the freedom to create teaching posts with salaries above the upper pay scale, as well as to use fixed-term responsibility allowances of up to £2,500 a year for time-limited projects.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said she was afraid that “hard-up schools” would “undoubtedly decide to deny pay rises to teachers to help balance their budgets”.

However, John Roberts, chief executive of Edapt – which provide professional services for teachers – said that teachers should be confident of their legal rights.

He explained: “Schools are likely to be mindful to ensure their pay policies treat their teachers fairly, or they will lose them. An outdated response from unions that ignores the progress that has been made in equality and employment law since they first negotiated national pay will perhaps therefore be more to protect their own interests.”

You can read the STRB’s report and recommendations in full at 






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