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Strikes loom as heads put in charge of pay

news | Published in TES magazine on 7 December, 2012 | By: Stephen Exley

Scrapping of main pay scale ‘massively destabilising’, say critics

Schools face the prospect of widespread strike action after ministers announced a fundamental overhaul of teachers’ pay that will scrap automatic rises for tens of thousands of staff.

In a move to link pay more closely with performance, the main pay scale for classroom teachers will be abolished, handing sweeping new powers to heads to decide pay levels.

Instead of progressing up the pay scale each year, teachers will earn anything between nationally set minimum and maximum levels (see panel), depending on their performance.

Teaching unions reacted furiously to the announcement, which was made by Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement to MPs on Wednesday and is due to be introduced from next September.

Education secretary Michael Gove said the changes would allow schools greater power to “reward their best teachers”.

But Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said the move would “effectively demolish the national pay framework”, and cause “inconsistency and unfairness” for teachers.

Martin Freedman, head of pay, conditions and pensions at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), warned that it would cause “great damage to morale in schools”. “This is a mechanism that allows schools to hold down teachers’ pay for as long as they want,” he said.

Leaders of the NUT and NASUWT, the two biggest unions, will meet next week to discuss the next phase of their industrial action. Both unions already have a mandate for strike action from earlier ballots. Even the moderate ATL has “ruled no option out” and will look to hold talks with the other unions.

“It will cause schools to spend more time concerned with appraisals and performance management than on curriculum and student behaviour,” Ms Blower said, warning that uncertainty over pay would deter graduates from entering the profession.

Ms Blower added that the NUT and NASUWT “envisaged that we would take both action short of strike action and strike action”. “This is action we have planned for,” she said.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the proposals “place virtually unlimited discretion on teachers’ pay in the hands of headteachers at a time when unfairness and discrimination are already rife”.

The plans received a mixed reaction from headteachers. Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said they have the potential to be “massively destabilising”. “It is an enormous additional burden for heads and governors, which could distract them from improving the standard of teaching,” he said. But Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT heads’ union, said the plans strike a balance between preserving a national framework and giving headteachers the freedom they need to reward “great teaching”.

The decision to scrap the main pay scale comes after a consultation run by the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) - which advises ministers on teachers’ pay - on reforms that included introducing regional and performance-related pay. By making heads responsible for setting teachers’ salaries, the need to determine a complex regional pay structure has been avoided.

Academies and free schools are already exempt from following national pay scales. Greg Martin, executive head of Durand Academy in London, said extending the freedoms to other heads would help them “attract, retain and develop the highest-quality staff”. “It is essential that excellence in the teaching profession is recognised and rewarded,” he said.

The Department for Education argued that the new approach will bring an end to teachers’ pay being primarily a reward for time served rather than a reflection of how well they perform. It added that this will allow talented young teachers to reach high salaries more quickly than the current structure allows.

“These recommendations will make teaching a more attractive career and a more rewarding job,” said education secretary Michael Gove. “They will give schools greater flexibility to respond to specific conditions and reward their best teachers.”

At present, teachers’ wages increase automatically up the main pay scale unless their head makes a case for preventing this. After six years’ experience, teachers can pass through the “threshold” on to the upper pay scale if their teaching is of a high enough standard. These teachers will not be affected by this week’s announcement.

Dame Patricia Hodgson, chair of the STRB, which drew up the plans, said they “give heads freedom to manage teachers’ pay according to pupil needs and local circumstances, within a fair national framework”. The key recommendations have already been accepted by the DfE.

 

Pay bands
Annual salary:
 Band ABand BBand CBand D
Minimum£27,000£25,117£22,626£21,588
Maximum£36,387£35,116£32,588£31,552
Band A: inner London area, Band B: outer London area, Band C: fringe London area, Band D: England and Wales excluding London

 

Key changes

Teachers’ salaries to be decided according to whether they meet the new “teachers’ standards” published in September.

The “unnecessarily detailed threshold test” for progression from the main to the upper pay scale will be replaced.

Schools will be given more discretion to offer recruitment and retention allowances and to create posts at the higher end of the pay scales.

The public sector pay rises will be applied to the upper and lower ends of the pay scale, but schools will decide whether they want to pass on the rise to employees.

Teachers on the upper pay scale will be unaffected.

The current pay bands for inner London, outer London, London fringe and the rest of England and Wales will also be retained.

 

Original headline: Strikes anticipated as heads put in charge of teachers’ pay levels


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Comment (19)

  • About time. If only to persuade the minority of teachers who either received promotions through a perverse 'loyalty/long service' mindset or are close to retirement and 'counting the days' to go a bit earlier.

    "Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the proposals “place virtually unlimited discretion on teachers’ pay in the hands of headteachers at a time when unfairness and discrimination are already rife”.

    Well Chris, like your other union colleagues (too many /disparite to have any impact) you haven't done anything about that so it's no good bleating when the next initiative comes down the line.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    14:33
    7 December, 2012

    One Horse Town

  • This will only affect the already hardworking teachers at the beginning of their careers. Let's face it, anyone teaching over six years is already on Upper Pay Scale (whether they now deserve it or not) and therefore 'safe' so all this news will do is cause more stress and worry on the newer teachers.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    17:30
    7 December, 2012

    bohemia

  • Mr One Trick Pony,

    'Disparate' or 'desperate'?

    Please don't bleat when your headteacher reads your appalling gaffe and docks your salary.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    19:52
    7 December, 2012

    al the pict

  • one old pony
    Do you know how many heads there are who bully and make life difficult for teachers who are good at there jobs who then leave teaching.
    Making teaching starting salary the same as some some banker say £35k and you might have a point. Teachers should get a pay rise for their service due to the low entry point.
    Paying by results only leads to teaching for results, not the best for the student or society. Payment by on performance never works even in industry.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    20:07
    7 December, 2012

    archiescout

  • So, who wants to take on a known difficult to teach class? Will the unions support teachers who refuse to take on these classes?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    21:34
    7 December, 2012

    MrAPD

  • Al the pick

    Oh dear - no wonder the 'profession' is in such dire straits. I hope you're not an English teacher. The word disparite was deliberately used to describe the many and varied teaching unions because of this fundamental flaw, have no impact. Look it up. By the way 'dire straits' is not a reference to a cheesy rock outfit, but to describe the current state of the 'profession'. Now then, do you understand? Sorry if that sounds patronising but I felt you needed support.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    14:16
    8 December, 2012

    One Horse Town

  • archiescout (leader?)

    "Do you know how many heads there are who bully and make life difficult for teachers who are good at there jobs who then leave teaching."

    Just wiping my tears away. Seriously, yes that may happen. However, that's what unions are for......isn't it?

    Teachers should get a pay rise for their service due to the low entry point.

    You're not serious are you? Try telling that to a nurse and you'll probably end up in casualty.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    14:27
    8 December, 2012

    One Horse Town

  • If the profession cant unite around the issue of pay by results and shout the counter arguments loud and clear then there will almost certainly be serious consequences for the recruitment of future generations of teachers.

    At a time when the profession is already losing good teachers this idiotic proposal will only cause more damage if the bottom line is that teacher pay is adversely affected or percieved to be adversely affected. One horse town, im sensing youre out of your depth on this one, what's so "perverse" with being rewarded for loyalty and length of service? Surely this encourages the growth of experience and expertise that feeds back into the system to the benefit of all?

    Now is the time for teachers to stand their ground on this very important issue by refusing to be bullied by Gove and his profiteering mates. Perhaps the secretary of state for education needs reminding that he cheapens the profession and childrens education by failing to grasp that state schools (funded by the tax payer) have a purpose beyond operating as private businesses and that teachers that work in them do not wish to be treated like poorly performing sales executives.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    22:38
    8 December, 2012

    mrdisgruntled

  • mrdisgruntled

    "im sensing youre out of your depth on this one "

    Are you as condescending as this to your pupils?

    "what's so "perverse" with being rewarded for loyalty and length of service? Surely this encourages the growth of experience and expertise that feeds....."

    No, it leads to complacency and a lack of accountability. A problem not unique to education.

    "Now is the time for teachers to stand their ground on this very important issue by refusing to be bullied by Gove and his profiteering mates"

    Ooh - you're scaring me. And how may I ask will they do this. They certainly can't rely on the 'personal liability providers' (unions) to it or they'd have dealt with previous issues........pensions; the exam debacle last summer....the list goes on.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    20:33
    9 December, 2012

    One Horse Town

  • "Complacency and lack of accountability". Hhahahaahaaaaaa, yeah right, have you been working in a state school of late?. I'd say you were about 30 years behind the times. Your comments betray you. You appear to have a distrust of teachers motivations and a prejudiced take on the role of unions, i can only assume therefore that you are in fact Michael Gove.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    23:10
    9 December, 2012

    mrdisgruntled

  • mrdisgruntled

    "have you been working in a state school of late?" Yes, 32 years actually. Across 5 schools in that time very successfully thanks.

    " I'd say you were about 30 years behind the times. " Do you now? Do you watch Derren Brown much? However, to take your point what, precisely, have unions achieved for the 'profession' that makes it different from 30 years ago?

    "i can only assume therefore that you are in fact Michael Gove." You flatter me. No seriously, that's silly

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    10:19
    10 December, 2012

    One Horse Town

  • Yes I do know of heads that have done this and as you say it may happen. Who wants experience and expensive teachers who might have a different views to a new whiz kid head who can tick all the boxes and catch phrases.

    You have a real problem with unions any personal reasons why?? Don’t bother answering.

    Does asking for a fair wage deny the nurses extra pay? Deflect the argument, when all else fails, expected more from you.

    My last comment you seem not to have made your usual funny comment, are you just employed by TES to keep the thread going? nice work if you can get it.

    Comment to every one out there do not reply to one horse town let him ride out of town the lone cowboy he is.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    19:05
    10 December, 2012

    archiescout

  • archiescout (leader?)

    "You have a real problem with unions any personal reasons why?"

    Oh yes, definitely. Thousands of pounds over three decades plus in subscription fees for bland magazines and zero impact on my career and more importantly the pupils I've taught. What's not to like? Go on then, convince me otherwise. Should have taken a friends advice and spent the money on seperate liability insurance (the reason most teachers are IN a union) instead.

    "Does asking for a fair wage deny the nurses extra pay?"

    The article is about PRP, not basic pay. Golden rule in exams Archie, always read the question and source material before answering.

    "My last comment you seem not to have made your usual funny comment, are you just employed by TES to keep the thread going? nice work if you can get it. "

    Like Mr Disgruntled you have also flattered me .....in a weird way. Mind you, perhaps I could have a go at journalism when I retire? Or perhaps get a job as a press secretary at the NUT.......or NAS/UWT.........or ATL..........or the most radical and truly inspirational of them all..............................PAT.

    "Comment to every one out there do not reply to one horse town let him ride out of town the lone cowboy he is."

    Talking of press releases, thanks for writing a great one for me. Genius.
    Of course people who's buttons are easy to press (LIKE YOU) will always want to reply to me.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    20:40
    11 December, 2012

    One Horse Town

  • The case against PRP...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    23:00
    12 December, 2012

    mrdisgruntled

  • 10 arguments against...

    1) It will cause resentment and ill feeling between teachers in the staffroom, and between staff and heads.

    2) Teachers refusing to work collaboratively but instead working in isolation towards individualised, "measurable" targets so that they can be held "accountable".

    3) `Teaching to the test` so staff pay is not penalised (thought we had enough of this rubbish already? ...but boy are we going to have a generation of kids good at passing lots of tests!)

    4) Heads and SMTS redirecting time towards constant staff appraisals and working out of salary details (thought there wasnt enough time in the day as it was?).

    5) Staff wasting valuable time filling out even more paper work justifying salary expectations.

    6) The threat of Heads being taken to tribunals when staff believe thay have been discriminated against.

    7) Demotivation of staff if they feel salaries are kept artificially low due to internal budgetary reasons.

    8) Increased numbers of teaching professionals leaving/refusing to enter the profession if there is a risk of pay being viewed as unpredictable, unattractive or if pay is seen as being administerd in a non transparent way.

    9) The ugly assumption that teachers can be bribed/punished financially and made to work harder than they already are (an insight into Gove free market mentality?)

    10) Unfairness in picking on the teaching profession. If PRP is such a genius idea why not spread it to nurses based on how many lives they save? or police officers based on numbers of criminals caught? (actually pretty sure they're probably looking at this as we speak!!)

    All in all THE MOST STUPID and innapropriate idea to have ever come out of Goves ministry of doom. Ive said my piece.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    0:22
    13 December, 2012

    mrdisgruntled

  • It's clear tthe tories' agenda is to dismantle, fragmment and privatise ALL public services.
    You've seen nothing yet.
    Do you unite as one and stand up to the bullies or do you keep your heads down and hope you'll hang on to some sort of a job?
    Form one Union and fight -for God's sake!
    Better to die on our feet than live on our knees.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    8:41
    13 December, 2012

    littleguide

  • Bravo littleguide, loving the fighting talk. I got a feeling there's going to be a show down with that fool Gove. IAgree 100%. Time to man the barricades!!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    22:16
    13 December, 2012

    mrdisgruntled

  • I spent 12 long years teaching in the UK. What a Hell hole! British teachers have my deepest admiration because they work so hard, get no benefits or respect and are paid really poorly compared to Canada.
    Schools full of class antagonism and horrible children who do not value education and teachers who are constantly bullied by everyone when they are not filling in forms.
    Good luck with the battle comrades! Where else in the world would the primeminister state that kids failure to achieve has nothing to do with socio-economic conditions, it's just bad teachers! Yes your genocidal maniac Blair said that! What a bloody country! No future. So sad.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I would be exceedingly surprised if "one Horse Town" is particularly liked in the profession. This man's rebuttals are needlessly sarcastic, pointlessly one-sided and stubborn and rather than be influenced by these comments I know (and look forward to), the inaccuracy of the jibes. The unions are do not exist to solve the problems you are charging them to solve for one thing. And, for instance, when mrdisgruntled said you were behind the times he was referring to your lack of awareness of the deep growth of accountability in most schools. It seems that your school doesn't have very good performance management. Most schools have exceedingly good performance management but you have a narrow and hard beaten ball of iron as an opinion. No flexibility, empathy and a lack of social grace or tact. How sad really.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    19:57
    28 February, 2013

    pickemupsticks

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