February 2013

The know zone

  • Warning signs
    The case of a BNP councillor who took his claim against unfair dismissal to the European Court of Human Rights is a warning to schools and colleges, says Richard Bird. More
  • Toil and trouble
    Changes to local and national funding formulae could be a recipe for a whole cauldron of bother, says Sam Ellis. More
  • Lead vocals
    Quotes from Judy Garland, Kongzi, Ezra Pound, Felix Cohen and Thomas Fuller More
  • Home ground
    After 20 years away, Mark Stanyer returned to the school where he began his teaching career and is now principal of Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy in Stoke-on-Trent. More
  • Nourishing minds
    The Food for Life Partnership (FFLP) is revolutionising school meals by reconnecting young people with farms and inspiring them to grow food and cook. More
  • Keeping pedagogy on track
    Despite being in the midst of one of the most challenging periods in education Brian Lightman explains why he believes there are strong grounds for optimism in 2013. More
  • Adding value
    In his Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced two changes that will hit high earners, people seeking to boost their pension provision, and public sector workers who benefit from generous employer contributions. More
  • Quantitative easing
    Do you believe changes announced to the teachers’ pay structure will be beneficial or detrimental? Here, leaders share their views. More
  • Plantastic voyage
    Nothing solves a problem quite like a carefully constructed, conscientiously costed action plan. Just make sure that everyone has the correctly coloured stationery. More
  • Leaders' Surgery
    The antidote to common leadership conundrums... More
  • Financial times...
    With changes to pensions announced in the Autumn Statement and proposals to change teachers’ pay published only days before ASCL Council met in December, it was no surprise that pay and conditions were high on the agenda. More
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Do you believe changes announced to the teachers’ pay structure will be beneficial or detrimental? Here, leaders share their views.

Quantitative easing

Money does not motivate

The problem with the new structure is that for all its professional-sounding management speak, it betrays a total lack of understanding of how professionals are motivated.The problem is that professionals are not motivated by money. Before anyone jumps down my throat, think about it. Sure, we all like to be paid more, but it's not the pay that makes us try new things out, hang around to help out at the end of a parents' evening, lead a trip to Rome, etc., etc. It's something much deeper: satisfaction, reward and a sense of responsibility.

What is true, and what underlines the folly of linking pay to performance, is that dissatisfaction with pay prevents motivation elsewhere. Research has shown repeatedly that linking performance to pay for cognitive tasks reduces performance. Imagine the situation of a school with value added below 1,000 and half the teachers don't get value added.

This could be for a variety of reasons, for example, the quality of the head of department, but will still hit the class teacher. People will focus on only what they have to and schools will further lose their collegiate attitude as staff become divided as they compete with one another.

Furthermore, the proposal to accelerate some while holding others back will continue the ever-growing trend in some schools of viewing older staff in a negative light. It may be difficult to dedicate 70 hours a week with a family, but this can bring a real sense of perspective in terms of how to deal with students, and how school effects home life.

Dan Wilkinson
Vice principal, Riddlesdown Collegiate, Purley, Surrey

Division, despair and disputation

After 42 years in what I regarded as the best 'job' in the world, I have finally breathed a sigh of relief that I personally am not going to be responsible for the division, despair, disputation and time, which will inevitably result from these changes.

Throughout my 16 years of headship in what became one of the top three comprehensives in Gloucestershire, I was able to recruit outstanding teachers, several of whom changed careers to work in the school. They enjoyed the outstanding ethos (we had five outstanding Ofsted reports from 2000 to 2010) and the good humoured, collegiate atmosphere which characterised the school community.

So what will the government hope to achieve? Even in a high-performing school there will not be sufficient cash to pay all colleagues the tiny 'inflation' rise. So inevitably some teachers will not progress up the pay spine nor receive the inflation rise.

I recall that in one of our ‘speech days’ I referred to the 'beacons of excellence’ that shone in our society.

I gave my entire working life to what I regarded as the noblest profession. I am deeply saddened that a regime that cannot sort out the more obvious chaos around us, has instead chosen to ‘tackle' teachers who, as most parents know, give their all to educate their young charges.

Ann Holland
Former headteacher, The Cotswold School, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

New structures hard to implement

Most schools, and certainly our school, are fortunate to have many staff who give generously of their time, perform at a consistently high level and deserve to be remunerated accordingly. Some of these high performers are experienced colleagues while others are in the early years of their career and are not yet eligible for threshold payments. Schools already have the opportunity to move high-performing colleagues more rapidly up the pay scale, so in this sense what is being proposed is not necessarily new. However, performance-related pay can be a difficult thing to implement in schools. Performance criteria are not always as objective as in some other occupations, such as sales or marketing. The current arrangements for progress to the upper pay spine have been with us for some time and should be reviewed. Teachers who continue to deliver should be rewarded w with additional pay, but the criteria for reaching such standards need to be clear and transparent, payments should be in the expectation of continued sustained high performance and should be subject to annual review. Wholesale deregulation of pay, however, is not the way forward.

Andy Stone
Headteacher, Holy Family Catholic School and Sixth Form, London

Ill-thought policy

I am concerned that the proposals will be used alongside cuts in school funding where the government will be able to say that it is the fault of individual schools if they cannot manage budgets as they are choosing how to allocate funding. This has happened with local authorities for years. It is also completely unacceptable that different aspects of government policy are not being viewed holistically.

The current mismanagement of teacher training through the chaotic introduction of Teach Direct and the limits on HE teacher training places is likely to result in significant shortages in some subjects – enabling new staff in those areas to 'name their price'simply due to supply and demand issues. Could that then result in more experienced colleagues being paid less purely because they entered the profession when training was better planned? Will financial constraints mean that there will, in effect, be a cap on the number of good and outstanding staff that a school can employ?

As ever, this policy appears ill-thought through and based on political dogma rather than the reality of running schools.

Deb Hill
Headteacher, Buxton Community School, Buxton, Derbyshire

Could do more harm than good

It is appropriate that education joins industry and embraces a more rational pay structure. I do question the methodology of this, however. I would have no qualms at all with this strategy if it could be proven to improve outcomes for students.The bottom line, however, is that there is a raft of evidence that indicates that performance related pay actually damages a school and associated outcomes rather than having a positive effect. More than that – at a time when there is a significant debate about school funding and resources, why give headteachers another administrative burden?

Chris Gabbett
Principal, Trinity Catholic School, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

quantitive easing