School leaders have been warned that the “work has only just begun” over the move to performance-related pay for classroom teachers.
Plans for performance-related pay were only approved in April and schools have been rushing to create and consult upon new pay policies, which had to be in place at the start of this month.
The first pay decisions under the new system will take place from September 2014, but policies must be in place now so that teachers are fully aware of their school’s expectations.
Next, school leaders will face the challenge of having to fully brief and train all staff, providing additional support to help them adjust to the new system.
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that the timescale has been “immensely challenging” in light of wider education reform and ongoing industrial action.
He said: “The vast majority of secondary school leaders have now amended and consulted upon their pay policies and made concrete and manageable plans for preparation and careful, measured implementation.”
However, he added: “The work has only just begun, as all schools will need to provide teachers and governing bodies with additional training, briefing and support.”
Performance-related pay sees the removal of automatic increments on the classroom teachers’ pay scale, with pay increases instead to be linked to appraisal and performance against the Teachers’ Standards.
This means that teachers’ pay will progress based on what they achieve, rather than their length of service – and it could mean no pay progression for some teachers.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said that implementation will be the “acid test”.
He explained: “The majority of schools have put in place sensible, conservative policies. Rightly, they have focused on progression rather than tinkering with the grading structures – the latter poses serious risks down the line.
“But the acid test of performance management is not the policy but the implementation. The decisions made by line managers will carry significant consequences and need to be robust. This is about skill and confidence, not documentation: most of the real work is still to come.”
The government says the changes to pay are about “paying good teachers more”, but teachers’ unions have voiced fears that it is simply a cost-cutting exercise.
Writing in SecEd last term, Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “The secretary of state’s pious statement that the changes are about ‘paying good teachers more’ has been exposed by his own cabinet colleague, the chancellor, who in his March Budget Statement made clear that substantial savings are being sought by restricting public sector pay progression. These changes are, and always have been, about paying everybody less.”