Pay proposals could leave governors ‘vulnerable’

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The move to performance-related pay for teachers could increase the “workload and vulnerability” of governing bodies, school leaders have warned.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has given a “cautious welcome” to the proposals but has said that some governing bodies lack the expertise necessary to deal with their implications.

In December, 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 has advised that a “broad national framework” of pay be kept for teachers including the retention of the upper pay scale. It means classroom teachers’ pay will remain between the current bands of £21,588 to £31,552 (£27,000 to £36,387 for those in London), but with increases no longer automatic and now being linked to performance.

Mr Gove is expected to confirm his response to the report in the coming weeks, but has said he intends to accept the recommendations. He said: “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, in its formal response this week, ASCL said the implications of the plans for governing bodies would be “profound”. General secretary Brian Lightman explained: “The implications of the changes for school governing bodies must not be underestimated.

“Governing bodies are ultimately responsible for the pay policy and pay awards, and 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.

“While more flexibility to link pay and performance is welcome, pragmatically it will be difficult to do within the current school budget constraints. 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.”

Teachers’ unions have voiced anger at the pay proposals. Voice warned there would 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”, while the National Union of Teachers 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 teacher.”

The STRB proposals include giving schools 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.

Elsewhere, Mr Gove has 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.


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