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Pay reforms 'arbitrarily discriminate' against heads, union claims

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Some school leaders could face an “arbitrary” pay freeze from September under controversial salary reforms, a headteachers' union has warned.

The Association of School and College Leaders' (ASCL) analysis of proposals from the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), which makes recommendations on teachers’ pay, has found that headteachers and senior leaders at the top of their pay range will be denied a 1 per cent cost-of-living increase if they happen to be at an “unlucky” spine point.

However, other heads and senior leaders who are also at the top of their pay range but paid at different spine points will not be hit by the freeze, the union has said. This is because the eight “unlucky” spine points (listed below) coincide with the top levels for eight newly created headteacher pay groupings.

Sara Ford, ASCL’s pay, conditions and employment specialist, told TES it was unclear whether the policy was deliberate or whether the STRB had “misunderstood its own system” in making the proposal.

In its response to the STRB’s consultation, the ASCL said the proposals were “ill-conceived” and would “arbitrarily discriminate” against some leaders, regardless of their performance.

It added that the proposals could worsen schools’ recruitment problems and send a message that the contribution of some staff was “not valued”.

“ASCL is disappointed by the recommendations of the STRB as they do not address the worsening recruitment picture and significant real-terms cut in teachers’ pay," the union's response said. "In places they arbitrarily discriminate against some members of the leadership team. We fail to see how it can be justified on any grounds. We are concerned about the message this will send out to members of the leadership team in general, as well as those staff whose pay will be frozen for a third year in four.”

The union warned that many senior leaders were nearing retirement, and that the arbitrary pay freeze could cause them to leave the profession early. This would “further exacerbate the retention problems in the leadership group”, the consultation response said.

ASCL has also urged the government to reject the STRB’s proposal to let schools give their best teachers a 2 per cent pay rise.

The union said this was because the proposal would not, in practice, reward the best teachers, who would be rewarded by being moved to the upper pay range. It added that the STRB’s proposal would create an “unnecessary and overly bureaucratic” new level of assessment.

ASCL has also called for the government to provide additional funding to cover increased pay awards, rather than allow them to be “an extra cost on already stretched school budgets”.


The eight pay grades for school leaders which would miss out on a pay rise:

L18 (£58,096)

L21 (£62,521)

L24 (£67,290)

L27 (£72,419)

L31 (£79,872)

L35 (£88,102)

L39 (£97,128)

L43 (£107,210) 

(Brackets denote pay at each point, as of September 2014)

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