Performance-related pay consultation labelled a 'sham'

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Teachers are angry at what they call a “sham” consultation after the government has pressed ahead with plans to implement performance-related pay.

The Department for Education (DfE) confirmed this week that it will accept recommendations made by the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) in December.

The decision means that mandatory pay points for teachers will be scrapped from September with pay progression instead being linked to annual appraisals judged against the new Teachers’ Standards.

However, there has been criticism of the short consultation period between education secretary Michael Gove announcing that he intended to accept the STRB’s advice and his final decision to do so.

The STRB's report was published in early December followed by Mr Gove's formal response and a consultation period running over Christmas and up until January 4.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the announcement was “entirely predictable”.

"The consultation on the recommendations has been nothing but a sham. It is only six working days since detailed responses were submitted to the DfE, a timescale which in itself indicates there can have been no attempt to give the important points made serious consideration.

“At a time of severe economic austerity and where there is already stark evidence that schools are using existing pay flexibilities to deny teachers pay progression however well they perform, the claim that these recommendations will result in good teachers being paid more is risible.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, added that performance-related pay would make little difference to students’ results.

“It is fundamentally inappropriate for teaching, where educational outcomes are based on teamwork and the cumulative contribution of a number of teachers. 

“Contrary to DfE claims, there is no evidence that linking pay to performance increases results. The Education Endowment Foundation – part-funded by the DfE itself – argues that the difference is ‘closer to zero’ and it would be a folly to waste money pursuing it in order to drive up standards.”

Headteachers’ associations, meanwhile, have warned the DfE that the implementation of the plans will not be straight-forward. 

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The implications of the changes for school governing bodies are profound and 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.”

The STRB’s proposals will affect state schools, with academy schools already having freedom over setting teachers’ pay. The higher pay bands for London and fringe areas will be retained.

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.

A DfE statement said that the pay points would “remain in place for reference only in the main pay scale to guide career expectations for new teachers entering the profession”.

Mr Gove has also recently confirmed that there will be a one per cent rise in the minimum and maximum pay band limits for classroom teachers in both 2013/14 and 2014/15.

Accepting the STRB’s recommendations in December, Mr Gove said: “These recommendations will make teaching a more attractive career and a more rewarding job. They will give schools greater 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. This will be particularly important to schools in the most disadvantaged areas as it will empower them to attract and recruit the best teachers.”

The STRB report and the government's response from December are online at www.education.gov.uk/schools/careers/payandpensions/a00203870/strb-remit-21st-report

  


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