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Amanda Phillips: Why performance-related pay will improve teaching

Amanda Phillips, headteacher at Old Ford Primary School and Culloden Primary School, Tower Hamlets, London writes: 

In the schools I lead, we have always worked on the principle that you will be rewarded for doing a good job. As with other professionals, few teachers want to be paid the same as someone in the next classroom who does no more than just turn up. 

That is why I, and my staff, very much welcome the new powers to link pay progression to performance.

We decided to use heads' union the NAHT’s model as a starting point when devising our new policies because it was somewhat in line with what we wanted to achieve – which was to centre pay on the quality of teaching that directly relates to pupil outcomes.

We enlisted the help of our fantastic external HR adviser who devised the two schools’ new policies, based on what I wanted to achieve.

Our staff and governors were incredibly supportive during the consultation. They all understood how the policy was being developed and have been looking forward, as I have, to seeing it introduced. Teaching unions expressed their opposition, but I would say that I have a strong relationship with them – they know I and my HR team are fair and apply HR procedures consistently.

I am keen to make sure, for example, that teacher appraisals are based on proper evidence, such as a teacher’s impact on pupil achievement and the quality of their teaching. Setting challenging, measurable objectives that inspire every teacher to stretch themselves is key to this. 

The end result is a new pay policy for each school that links pay rises to progress against the Teachers’ Standards, rather than one based on automatic increases. 

This will mean that a teacher in their second year of teaching who can demonstrate they have met a range of objectives could receive a pay rise of £3,068 or £5,511 (dependent on what level they move to), rather than the £1,495 they would have received under the old system.

These objectives might include, among others, being able to demonstrate that all aspects of their teaching are at least good, that large numbers of their pupils are making above average progress in English and mathematics and that he or she has managed a teacher training student effectively. This is the sort of teacher I was and the sort of teachers I want and am fortunate to have working in my schools.

I would expect my Year 6 teaching team to be aiming to get 92 per cent of their pupils to at least level 4 in reading; 49 per cent to level 5 and 15 per cent at level 6. And I expect them to be setting similarly ambitious targets in writing, grammar, mathematics and science, with robust, on-going assessment to make sure they are on track to achieve them.

Many of our pupils come into nursery with exceptionally low attainment, well below national average. I am proud to say that by the time they leave Year 6 they are mostly at or above national average. The only way to make this kind of progress is to focus constantly on the quality of teaching which, as we all know, is what makes such a difference to pupil outcomes.

Linking pay and performance reinforces this, enabling schools to bring in better teachers, remove those who are underperforming and encouraging governors to really hold headteachers to account. This needs to happen in all schools in the interests of the children they serve. 

The Department for Education has published advice about the new pay arrangements and model pay policies here.

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