Rushed performance-pay plans will leave schools ‘vulnerable’


A legal expert has warned that the timescale for performance-related pay reforms could leave some schools in “a vulnerable position”.

A legal expert has warned that the timescale for performance-related pay reforms could leave some schools in “a vulnerable position”.

By September, every school must have revised pay and appraisal policies in place detailing how pay progression is to be linked to teachers’ performance based on annual appraisals.

However, official guidance issued by the Department for Education (DfE) this week has been labelled a “bureaucratic nightmare” by teachers, while one headteachers’ union is publishing its own model pay policy to help school leaders cope.

The DfE has sent its guidance to all schools, alongside a revised version of the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD). The changes come into effect after the September 2013 pay progression is complete. The first performance-linked pay rises will be awarded from September 2014. 

Employment lawyer Heather Mitchell this week warned that the tight timescale for change could prove problematic.

She told SecEd: “These changes have to be implemented before the start of the autumn term. By putting pressure on schools to act so quickly, the government has left very little time for them to take a careful and considered approach to this significant change in culture.

“As we expect Ofsted to look very closely at how schools use performance-related pay as a leadership tool, there is a real risk that schools who do not tackle it swiftly will find themselves in a very vulnerable position.”

The changes mean that mandatory pay points on the pay scale have been scrapped, although they will continue to be published as a guide for teachers.

The National Association of Head Teachers has urged heads to go “one step at a time” and to stick to the pay points for now. The union is also to produce its own pay model. 

General secretary Russell Hobby said: “The document contains big changes to pay in schools; some are helpful, some are risky. All will require careful thought and planning. We are recommending a structured journey over time, not an immediate free for all. We see little value in departing from the pay points or experimenting with pay grades at this time. One step at a time is the best approach.”

When assessing teachers’ performance, the DfE advises schools to use factors including:

  • Impact on pupil progress and wider outcomes for pupils.

  • Contribution to improvements in other areas, such as pupils’ behaviour or lesson planning, and wider contribution to the work of the school.

  • CPD and career development.

It says evidence could come from self-assessments, lesson observations, and the views of other teachers, parents and pupils. 

The document details changes to the process to get through threshold to the upper pay scale, while the advanced skills teacher post and pay scales have also been scrapped.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the guidance was a ”bureaucratic nightmare packed with management speak”.

She added: “It sounds like the writers of this so-called advice have read textbooks and avoided actually visiting any real schools, with their attendant problems of poverty, behavioural difficulties or special educational needs.”

A DfE statement said: “It is up to each school to decide how best to implement new pay arrangements – and each school must make the link between pay and performance clear.

“The new arrangements provide increased flexibility for schools to develop pay policies tailored to their particular needs.”

Download the advice and draft STPCD at



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