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Academy principal argues for performance-related pay for teachers
Performance-related pay for teachers gets under way in state schools next term. In the first of a series of summer features Debbie Clinton, principal at Nunthorpe Academy in Middlesbrough argues why schools should embrace this new approach.
At Nunthorpe, we have always approached the annual publication of the draft School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document ('STPCD') and its accompanying advice from the Department for Education (DfE) with a degree of frustrated despair.
For decades, successive governments have 'tinkered' with a fundamentally flawed, opaque, inconsistent and, sometimes quite literally, unfathomable employment 'contract'.
And then came 2013 when the Secretary of State wrote to all schools and academies following the publication of the draft revised STPCD and its accompanying advice from the DfE.
As before, the STPCD is a gargantuan 106 page read; and the DfE advice a 'pithy' 30 pages long. However, this time it is well worth the read and well worth the effort.
Mr Gove's letter says: "The purpose of the pay reforms is to give schools the autonomy to attract, recruit and reward the teachers that they need. It is for each school to decide, within the law, on the right pay policy for their local circumstances...."
Used properly, the new draft STPCD and the accompanying DfE advice, which is remarkably helpful, can help us all to achieve exactly that.
But the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has claimed that the 2013 Draft STPCD could "increase substantially the workloads of headteachers and governing bodies, distract them from the important focus on teaching and learning and put schools at serious risk of legal challenge." In our view they could not be more wrong.
Let us examine these specific claims made by the teaching unions: "That adopting the 2013 STPCD changes will 'increase substantially the workloads of headteachers and governing bodies"
This is unlikely to be the case at Nunthorpe.
We already have an established culture of robust applications for the career progression of Nunthorpe staff. We do not move any teaching colleagues onto higher pay levels without a substantial base of absolute and relative performance evidence.
In our recent Ofsted Inspection, inspectors found "rigorous procedures for managing teachers' performance ensure that staff are accountable for the progress their students make. The academy robustly links this to salary progression."
In adapting the DfE Model Pay and Progression Policy along with our experience of performance related pay - at middle and senior teachers' leaders levels - we are not only confident that workloads will not be increased, but actually that it will be reduced as expertise and confidence grows.
*That adopting the 2013 STPCD changes will "distract them [headteachers and governing bodies] from the important focus on teaching and learning..."
We would argue the exact opposite to be the case.
We use detailed evidence based firmly on teaching and learning when arriving at pay decisions. This includes lesson observations, Ofsted inspections, exam performance and parent and student feedback.
It is simply nonsense to claim that such work is a distraction.
It is surely the core purpose of all school leaders to be absolutely confident that the teachers employed in our schools are the very best they can be; and that those teachers are rewarded accordingly.
In examining such evidence for all of our teachers pay performance decisions become clear, transparent and consistent.
The teaching unions also claim that adopting the 2013 STPCD changes will "put schools at serious risk of legal challenge."
I remain unsure why this would become more likely than in the current status quo.
What the new STPCD finally does for ambitious school leaders and governors is enable them to: *Arrive at a proper market rate for salaries which will, as with all other professions, be determined by a combination of factors - including regional contexts.
*Operate our schools with the necessary staffing flexibility.
*Properly reward high performing teachers.
*Set a competitive salary for a role and not be bound by another school's pay decisions.
Teachers, along with virtually all other professions, will need to negotiate pay packages on each occasion.
Clearly, school leaders would be foolish not to at least match a high quality employee's current pay package.
Nunthorpe Academy is disappointed by the lack of courage at the heart of the NASUWT/NUT Model Pay Policy.
It is a cautious document set on preserving aspects of the unsatisfactory status quo.
I also have yet to meet a governing body that would be willing to guarantee a one per cent pay uplift for their teaching staff in the context of standstill budget settlements.
It would be all too easy for us all to simply adopt the Model NASUWT/NUT Pay Policy. But taking a path of least resistance would be letting down our students. The future success of our country rests upon our young people and equipping them with a quality education - we must do whatever is in their best interests to achieve that goal.
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