No more Pay Portability, no more pay scale, no more automatic moving up the scale.

3rd January 2015 at 00:00

No more Pay Portability, no more pay scale, no more automatic moving up the scale



Not necessarily a pay cut, but you may not get a rise.


In Ye Olden Days - pre September 2013 - people hoping to get a job in another school would often ask something along these lines:  I’m on UPS2 – can I offer to go down the pay scale to get a job?  A low salary beats no salary!

They asked it because the system that they had always known was that you had a fixed pay point, which went up every year until you reached the top of the scale, and was always honoured by the next school that you went to work in.  Pay Portability - you carried across your pay scale point automatically to your next job in another school.

The question about offering to go down the scale came up a lot because there were many unemployed teachers out there (including returning teachers) who hadn’t been having much luck in getting a job. Or teachers who were unsuccessful in their search for a job in another school.  They felt that by lowering their salary they would have more chance, perhaps, to get appointed.

Certainly some schools were preferring to appoint NQTs, or people on M4, rather than those on UPS, in order to save money in cash-strapped times. A daft decision in my view, as the suitability of the teacher for the post should be the only criterion for appointment.

The view of the unions had always been that there was a national pay scale (with London Allowances on top), that teachers progressed automatically year after year until the threshold, and that most of them were sufficiently competent to continue onto UPS. They therefore used to have an agreement with Local Authorities that maintained schools in England and Wales appointing new staff would always pay teachers according to their calculated scale point. This was called, as I say above, Pay Portability.


No more Pay Portability since September 2013


Note the wording: used to have.  Because in September 2013, it changed.  There is no longer Pay Portability for appointments to maintained schools in England and Wales.  And an amazing number of teachers several years later still don't know this.

Under the previous system, a maintained school therefore could not offer you a lower scale point, although an academy or a free school could and still can.   And so could and can an independent school, although many Indies offer more, not less.  Sometimes substantially more. See the article:


How much will I earn in the independent sector?


It follows from the previous pay system up to September 2013, that a maintained school wishing to appoint a teacher who was entitled to UPS2, but could only afford to pay him or her M5, could not offer that post to the teacher at M5, even if the teacher wished to accept it at that rate of pay. A low salary beats no salary did not chime with the unions. They believed that to allow teachers to negotiate individually with schools would cause salaries overall to fall, as there would be a Dutch auction effect: which of you would do the job for the lowest salary? 


So, no, before September 2013, you could not offer to go down the pay scale, nor could a school offer you a lower pay point.  But that was then, and this is now 


 Here is what the DfE says:

Revised pay progression arrangements come into force with effect from 1 September 2013. September 2013 will be the last time that annual pay increments are awarded to teachers based on the length of their service. Thereafter, decisions about teachers’ pay progression will be linked to performance, with their first annual performance-related progression pay increases being made in September 2014.

 Key points  

  • the revised arrangements provide increased flexibility for schools to develop pay policies that are tailored to their particular needs
  • schools will need to revise their pay policies to reflect these changes and to clarify their approach to making pay decisions
  • it is up to each school to decide for itself how best to implement the changes and develop policies accordingly
  • no single approach will suit all schools
  • school appraisal policies may also need to change to reflect closer links between performance and pay
  • schools are free to withhold progression pay without any requirement to initiate or consider capability proceedings


The document goes on to say:

Summary of changes

The main changes to the existing system are:

  • removing pay progression based on length of service and linking all pay progression to performance
  •  giving schools the option of increasing individual teachers’ pay at different rates based on their performance
  •  replacing the current threshold test for progression from the main to the upper pay range with new simpler criteria
  •  discontinuing the current Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) and Excellent Teacher (ET) designations and creating a new pay range for leading practitioners whose primary purpose is to model and lead the improvement of teaching skills
  • giving schools more freedom to determine starting salaries of teachers new to the school
  • removing any obligation on schools when recruiting to match a teacher’s existing salary.


Note particularly those last two.  So, from 1 September 2013, any teacher could offer – and be offered – a lower salary point when applying for a new post. 


By 1 September 2013, schools were supposed to have drawn up and agreed with the Governing Body (and if they have any sense, with teachers too) a revised pay policy that set out how performance appraisal outcomes are now linked to pay decisions.  


Performance management targets would be set early in the academic year for each teacher, and at the end of the year, based on achievement or non-achievement of these targets, decisions would be made about whether a teacher is allocated a pay increase for September 2014 and subsequent years.  



  • There are no longer scale points

  • There is no longer an automatic rise up a scale 

  • You could be awarded a £2,000 pay rise

  • Or 5p 

  • Or nothing.  


There is no longer a national payscale for teachers with points.  There is a national pay range, with a minimum and maximum, and a school decides what you are paid within the national pay range.  Each school should have its own Pay Policy which sets out how teachers should be paid.  You may be lucky: many schools have adopted a Pay Policy that has scale points within the pay range.  But your school - or a school where you apply to join - may not.


The Govt has announced a  pay rise for September 2015 - does that mean that everyone will get this pay rise?

Sorry, no it doesn't.

The pay range has moved up by 1% at the bottom.  So those at the very bottom of the pay range will get 1%, otherwise they wouldn't be in the pay range.  The top of the pay range has also gone up, more, by 2%.  But teachers at the very top will only get a pay rise of 2% if their school, following the pay policy, decides so.  People in other places on the pay range will only get any rise at all if their school, following the pay policy, decides so.


The good news is that you cannot be given a pay cut while you remain in the same school.


The DfE has drawn up a model Pay Policy – part of the document above - to help Governing Bodies in what proved to be a very tricky situation. Here is the section relating to new appointments, including setting a pay range within which they intend to pay for the post, and the actual pay offered to an individual:



The Governing Body will determine the pay range for a vacancy prior to advertising it. On appointment it will determine the starting salary within that range to be offered to the successful candidate.

In making such determinations, the Governing Body may take into account a range of factors, including:

(Insert as applicable – these options are for guidance only, are not intended to provide an exhaustive list, and may not apply to all appointments)

  • the nature of the post
  •  the level of qualifications, skills and experience required
  •  market conditions
  •  the wider school context

There is no assumption that a teacher will be paid at the same rate as they were being paid in a previous school.  (My bold here - i.e. no Pay Portability.)


I interpret the last two bullet points above to mean the following:

Market conditions could mean that if a school regularly receives very large numbers of suitable applicants, they can offer a lower salary because they will be able to fill the post. For a difficult-to-appoint subject, where there are normally fewer good applicants, they can offer more money.

 The wider school context could mean that a school that is unattractive to applicants – because of its location, or the nature of its student body – could offer more. If this interpretation is correct, does it also mean that a high-performing grammar school in a leafy suburb would pay less because it would still get sufficient good applicants?  I doubt it!


SUMMARY:  there is no longer a legal Pay Portability, and there is no longer a national pay scale with national pay points.  There is merely a minimum and maximum for teachers' pay (the "pay range"), which may be increased as a national pay rise of x% for teachers.  


  • There will only be Pay Portability if your school's Pay Policy says so.  

  • There will only be a pay scale with pay points if your school's Pay Policy says so.


VIEW OF THE UNIONS:   The NUT and NASUWT  do not accept the changes to the teachers’ pay system introduced by the Department for Education, and have devised their own checklist for a pay policy which contains the following:

Union checklist:

Determining the pay of appointees/maintaining ‘pay portability’

  • The school is committed to the principle of pay portability and will apply this principle in practice when making all new appointments.

 Determining the pay ranges for vacant teaching posts

  • The school will not restrict the pay available for appointees to vacant classroom teacher posts, other than the lower limit of the Main Pay Range and the upper limit of the Upper Pay Range.

 Main Pay Range – pay scale

  • Teachers on the Main Pay Range will be paid on the six-point scale on the Main Pay Range attached.

 Main Pay Range – pay progression

  • Teachers will be awarded pay progression on the Main Pay Range following a successful performance management/appraisal review.
  • Reviews will be deemed to be successful unless significant concerns about standards of performance have been raised in writing with the teacher during the annual performance management/appraisal cycle and have not been sufficiently addressed through support provided by the school by the conclusion of that process.


The above is just the union recommendation, that (a) there should be pay portability and (b) there should still be a pay scale with pay points instead of just a pay range.  

As always, you should remember that what the unions say is not binding on a school or its Governing Body.


So, to get back to the original question: I’m on UPS2 – can I offer to go down the pay scale to get a job?  

The answer is: Yes, you can apply stating that you would be willing to be paid the equivalent of the former M5 (or whatever you choose to say).

Or you can just keep quiet, and see what salary they are prepared to offer you when they offer you the job.  


The good news is that a large number of schools ARE sticking to some sort of pay scale, and ARE offering Pay Portability.  More or less . . .


The Moral of the story is: 

When you are offered a job, make sure that you hear loud and clear what they are offering you in that phone call.  We have heard of teachers with 6 years' experience accepting a job orally, expecting to have the equivalent of M6, then receiving the offer letter which states  Bottom of the pay range.


Don't want a pay cut when you move school?

Find out what the school is likely to offer before you even apply.


Not much point applying, going through interview and THEN discovering that they won't honour your current salary and expect you to take a pay cut.

Nothing to stop you asking for a copy of their pay policy before applying.  And if you are worried about having a Black Mark against your name before you even apply, you might have another e-mail account with a name that isn't linked to the e-mail you will use for your application . . . for example . . .

(Now don't all rush to get that one!)

And you should certainly bring this up at interview


Questions to ask at the end of your interview  


Best wishes