Teacher Amy Forrester describes the abolition of the old pay-scales system as “one of the biggest changes in the last few years in education”. But she is fortunate to be in a school that is “ahead of its game” when it comes to performance-related pay.
Cockermouth School in Cumbria, where she teaches English, has dropped formal, graded lesson observations, and does not look at exam data when considering a teacher’s PRP award.
“Our policy asks that teachers identify an area of their teaching that they wish to improve, and to go off and try some things to see if they can improve it, followed by exploring the impact of said changes to see if they are worth implementing over time,” explains Forrester. “It’s as straightforward as that.
“We hand in our ‘log’ of what we’ve been up to, which doesn’t have to be in a set format, and during the course of the academic year, we also check in with our line managers about what we’ve been doing and whether we need some support or guidance to help us move things forward. At the end of the cycle, in July, we share our ‘logs’ with the senior leadership team and governors, and pay decisions are based on this. There is absolute consistency across all staff.
“We also check in regularly with our development lead to ensure that we are making sufficient progress, and if we aren’t, concerns would be raised well in advance of any pay-based decisions.
“There’s no culture of favourites in our school, and as long as staff have shown engagement in improving teaching and learning, pay decisions will reflect this.
“I don’t think this is standard practice in a lot of other schools, though. But I hope education can get to the point where all schools operate with trust and a commitment to genuine improvements in teaching and learning, as our school does.
“Teachers on the ground feel very much that this is a liberating process. In the past, more arduous, paperwork-heavy, time-heavy processes were in place. Now, we are freed of this onerous activity, which had little impact on students or learning, and instead our directed time is being used specifically to do work on the thing we love – teaching.”