Headteachers respond positively to plans for performance-related pay in schools


Headteachers respond positively to plans for performance-related pay in schools

Unions representing headteachers have broadly welcomed plans to introduce performance-related pay for school teachers in England and Wales. But they warned that if its adoption is to be successful, the right timing, training and funding will be vital.

In its formal response to the Secretary of State’s acceptance of recommendations by the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) - which advises the government on teachers' pay - the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) says rewarding teachers for good performance is a “logical way of encouraging excellence in the classroom”.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) says its members are “positive about using greater flexibility in the pay framework to incentivise and reward outstanding teaching and contribution to the work of the school”.

There has, however, been a huge negative reaction from teaching unions.


National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)

NAHT represents over 28,500 members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Its members hold “leadership positions in early years; primary; special and secondary schools; independent schools; sixth form and FE colleges; outdoor education centres; pupil referral units, social services establishments and other educational settings.”

Its response is available here.

According to the NAHT, the move away from service-related pay progression to a system linking pay to performance, will “ultimately raise teaching quality and reward good and excellent teachers”.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said:

"The STRB’s recommendations need careful managing if they are to be introduced successfully. Some of the recommendations will be challenging, a few are 'too far, too soon' and implementation will certainly be demanding. However, we do support the STRB’s main thrust that the current pay structure needs to be simplified. We would also reiterate our relief that initial proposals for regional pay have been taken off the agenda and welcome this as acknowledgement that the STRB has listened to the profession on this point. Our one caveat is that there should be no attempts made to resurrect it further down the line.”

He added:

“We accept that basing pay progression on performance would bring classroom teachers into line with both head teachers, where it already operates, and with most other sectors. To get the best from the new system, however, it must be introduced sensitively and contain a strong emphasis on professional development. For teachers to understand that this is a constructive process that works in their interest as well as pupils, it must not be based on crude targets. Nor should it be implemented in a rush without adequate training being given to school leaders and governors who will be monitoring staff progress and sometimes having to make difficult decisions and judgements. We will be issuing our own guidance to members in due course."

Hobby concluded:

“The right funding must be in place to ensure schools can support rapid progression along the pay scale. Disparities in funding between schools may also threaten fair competition in recruiting good staff – progress towards a fair national funding formula is essential.”

Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL)

ASCL represents over 17,000 heads, principals, deputies, vice-principals, assistant heads, business managers and other senior staff of maintained and independent schools and colleges throughout the UK.

Its response is available here.

ASCL’s response to the proposals is also broadly positive, albeit with some important caveats and notes of caution.

ASCL said:

“Generally, school leaders welcome the opportunity to use the pay structures for teachers as one strategy in their striving for school improvement, and many of our members are positive about using greater flexibility in the pay framework to incentivise and reward outstanding teaching and contribution to the work of the school.”

But it warned:

“The principal caveats are associated with the need for fairness and transparency within schools and across the country, the need to avoid distracting and morale-sapping disputes over pay decisions within schools, the difficulties in implementing new approaches to pay at a time of increasing financial constraint, and the importance of ensuring that there continues to be a well understood national pay framework within which schools can exercise new flexibilities.”

It added:

“We note in the STRB report that there is a desire to promote flexibility in the arrangements for teachers’ pay in an effort to address local difficulties and to reward high performing teachers. However we also note the cautionary tone of the review body’s references to funding. Indeed the report mentions ASCL’s ‘pragmatic approach, believing that more explicit linking of pay and performance was unlikely to be feasible given current budget constraints’. For these flexibilities to work in the way the review body intends, ASCL’s view is that there must be a fair and equitable funding formula which addresses needs at regional and institutional level. In a climate where budgets are at best static and at worst declining significantly in real terms, the corollary of paying some teachers more must be paying other teachers less, or making them redundant.”