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Primary Education News
News Pupils' opinions may help decide teachers' pay under new rules
Department for Education guidelines say views of pupils and parents can be taken into account
School governors and headteachers can take into account the opinions of pupils and parents in awarding performance-related pay increases to teachers under new guidelines issued by the Department for Education that detail a radical shift in how teachers' salaries are determined over their career.
The new guidelines replace the previous policy of automatic pay increases according to length of service. Instead, school management will have wide latitude to include participation in after-school activities and longer working hours as well as academic performance among the criteria to be used in annual appraisals linking teachers' pay to performance.
According to the DfE's departmental advice to maintained schools in England and Wales: "Assessment may be based on evidence from a range of sources – for example, self-assessment, peer review, tracking pupil progress, lesson observations, the views of pupils and parents."
School managements are required to draw up individual school performance pay policies using the new guidelines, which come into force after September this year.
"The advice published today will help schools to review their pay policies and put in place arrangements that enable them to pay the best teachers more," said a spokesman for the DfE
A key element of the new policy is that "continued good performance" by teachers should see them receive annual pay increases – but that "a decision may be made not to award progression" even for teachers whose performance has not been placed under formal scrutiny.
The new guidelines do away with mandatory pay points within the current pay scales for classroom teachers, "to give schools greater freedom on how much teachers are paid", according to the DfE. Under the existing policy, most full-time classroom teachers automatically progress to a higher pay point each year.
The new guidelines also remove the ability of teachers to automatically transfer their pay scale between jobs, meaning that teachers could be forced to accept lower pay when applying for a new job.
Teaching unions have already signalled their hostility to performance-related pay, with the two largest – the National Union of Teachers and NASUWT – planning national strike action in June in protest at the policies.
Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said there was no evidence that performance-related pay motivated teachers or improved their performance.
"These changes could deter graduates from entering teaching, restrict serving teachers' ability to move jobs and cause many to leave teaching if they are unfairly deprived of pay progression by decisions which ignore their contribution to their school but focus instead on funding pressure or whether the teacher's face fits," she said.
Blower said she "deplored" the removal of national pay scales.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, gave a qualified welcome to the new performance-related measures but warned that tinkering with national pay structures was ill-timed and "risky".
"We see little value in departing from the pay points or experimenting with pay grades at this time. We see a lot of value in performance-related progression and this should be the focus of schools for the next couple of years," Hobby said.
The changes were "a bureaucratic nightmare", according to Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.
"The DfE's advice might be welcome if headteachers had nothing to do but draw up lists of performance measures and pay criteria but in the real world heads have schools to run and teachers have pupils who want to learn," she said.
In publicising the new policy, the DfE used examples drawn from charter, free and independent schools to illustrate the flexibility allowed under the new performance pay regime.
The Capital City academy, a secondary school in Brent, London, pays up to £1,400 a year to teachers who take part in three or more hours of extracurricular activity each week. The academies and free schools run by the Ark Schools charity pay their teachers an extra 2.5% above national rates to compensate for the chain's longer school hours.