Exclusive: 'Unreliable' Sats data used to deny teachers pay rises

Unions claim primary heads are treating staff 'with contempt'

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Schools have been using last summer’s widely criticised “unreliable” Sats results to trigger formal disciplinary proceedings against teachers and deny them pay rises, TES has learned.

Ofsted and the Department for Education have both acknowledged concerns over the results and pledged not to use them in isolation to judge schools.

The figures were branded “unreliable and meaningless” by the NAHT headteachers’ union.

But some primary heads are prepared to use these results to judge their own teachers for performance-related pay and capability proceedings, according to teaching unions. They say the practice has occurred in schools across the country.

ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said she was aware of a number of such cases, but insisted the 2016 results were “not valid metrics to judge someone’s performance”.

“To hold teachers to account for a test that was not very reliable is to treat them with contempt,” she said.

Pay decisions overturned

Some teachers who were originally denied a pay increment on the basis of the results have managed to overturn the decision.

Scott Lyons, joint division secretary for Norfolk NUT, said he had successfully argued with one headteacher against using the data: “We said, ‘Where’s the evidence that this teacher is not a good teacher?’ She said, ‘Look at the grades at the end of Year 6.’ I said, ‘This year was a one-off year. Schools are not being judged on this year.’ They did not have a leg to stand on and she withdrew.”

A DfE spokesperson said pay was a matter for schools, but added: “In setting pay, schools should assess teachers against a range of variables, not just exam results.”

This is an edited article from the 27 January edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full article here. To subscribe, click here. This week's TES magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here.

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