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Performance related pay – how are things going to change?

22 January 2013

The Government has confirmed that they will be fundamentally reforming how classroom teachers are paid. In this briefing Heather Mitchell, an employment lawyer in Browne Jacobson’s education team, sets out what the changes are and how they are going to impact on you in practice.

Are national pay scales being scrapped?

Not quite. There will remain a national framework of pay. This will prescribe the minimum and maximum pay levels that a classroom teacher can be paid. There will be no ‘pay scale’ but there will be spinal points set for reference only.

So how do we link pay to performance?

The expectation is that a teacher’s pay will increase if they are performing well. Schools will have to assess this through the appraisal process. There should be no expectation that teachers will progress unless they are performing well. Excellent teachers should progress very quickly to the maximum level.

Is there anything else we are supposed to take into account?

Yes, this ‘differential model’ proposes that pay is assessed on the specific context of your school as well as the performance of that individual member of staff. Schools are encouraged to pay more to specific posts, for example if there is a skills shortage. Many have questioned how schools are expected to fund this, the proposals cite the National Funding Formula reforms as a potential solution.

How do we ensure that staff are treated consistently?

Schools will need to ensure that they have robust pay and appraisal policies and that these are backed up by clear guidance on implementation. Ofsted will look to see that you have a policy that has been designed specifically for your school. Ensuring that your SLT and Governors have the expertise to operate the new system will be key to it working in practice.

Can we ignore it and carry on as before?

It is likely that you will be able to use the ‘reference points’ on the new pay scale. However, it is anticipated that Ofsted will be looking at this issue closely as an indicator of how you are managing your staff. If every teacher is progressing one point up the scale every year then this will be a clear indicator that you are not engaging with the process actively.

Does this put the school at risk of challenge?

Potentially. Particularly in the early stages, there are likely to be claims of inconsistent treatment. Governors will have to be ready to deal with appeals on this basis. It is also possible that there could be challenge on the basis of Equal Pay. However, there should be little risk that any challenge on this basis should be successful if decisions are being made in accordance with the school’s pay policy and against objectives set in the appraisal that are measured objectively.

What does this mean for governors?

One of the major criticisms of the reforms is that it places much greater emphasis on governor involvement. Governors will be expected to sign off all pay decisions and to challenge that the recommendations they are being given are sound.

Are we going to get any support?

The Government have been asked to provide schools with a ‘toolkit’. Depending on the content of this, schools may well want to think about training for their SLT and Governors on how they make these decisions and the risk areas to watch out for.

What are the other changes?

There are a number of other changes. These include a simplified test for 'Threshold', more flexibility around the role of an Advanced Skilled Teacher and the ability to make time limited TLR payments. The School Teachers Pay and Conditions document is going to be overhauled to a format that should be simplified and easier to use.

When is the change going to happen?

It is currently proposed that this will be in place for September 2013.

Is this the first step to complete deregulation?

The future of this programme of reform will depend on how this step works in practice. The next item that is likely to be reviewed is leadership pay. After that, it may not be long before Mr Gove’s ambition of pay being completely deregulated is realised.

There remain a lot of unanswered questions about how this is going to operate in practice. As soon as things become clear we will provide more information and offer training for you and your team. In the meantime, if you want to talk through the current position, feel free to pick up the phone.

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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