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Performance-related pay could help young classroom teachers earn £70k a year, new report claims

Performance-related pay could help classroom teachers reach a salary of £70,000 within just five years, a new report has claimed.

Right-leaning think-tank Policy Exchange has welcomed last year’s overhaul of teachers’ pay, which saw salaries become tied more closely to teachers' performance in the classroom.

The new system, together with the scrapping of automatic incremental pay rises for teachers on the Main Pay Scale, has sparked fury among the classroom unions. The introduction of performance-related pay (PRP) was cited as one of the grounds for regional strikes staged last term by members of the NUT and NASUWT unions.

But while the unions have warned that PRP could see teachers miss out on pay rises, the new Policy Exchange report published tomorrow morning claims that top performers could receive higher wages within a quicker time frame under the new system.

While senior school staff with extensive experience currently earn up to £64,677 in London or £57,520 outside the capital, the report will argue that under the new scheme teachers could earn as much as £70,000 a year without leaving the classroom within an estimated five years of joining the profession.

The paper maintains that pay is not the primary motivator for the majority of teachers, but argues that the extra incentives on offer could attract more graduates to the profession, driving up the quality of teaching in schools across the country.

This, the report will say, should aid the “recruitment and retention of desirable candidates into teaching and give clear messages to under-performers to improve or exit the profession”.

However report author Matthew Robb, a partner in the Parthenon Group's global education practice, warned that schools must be prepared to make “difficult decisions” and deny pay rises to underperforming staff.

He also insisted that schools need better advice and guidance in order to take advantage of the flexibilities on offer to them.

"A well-designed and implemented performance-related pay system could have great benefits for English schools,” he said.

"But many schools need better advice, guidance and templates in order to implement successfully. The critical area to get right is not just changes to pay but also high quality, developmentally-oriented performance assessment and appraisal."

NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney told TES that measuring the contribution of individual teachers to a student’s attainment was “next to impossible”, and warned that PRP would result in pay decisions being “based on head teachers’ personal likes and dislikes, schools’ funding position and many other reasons not based on ‘performance’ at all”.

Meanwhile, ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said there was no evidence that PRP will motivate teachers or improve education standards.

“Instead,” she said, “performance-related pay risks damaging children’s education by putting off the best and brightest students from becoming teachers and demotivating current teachers.

“It has nothing to do with improving children’s education, but everything to do with saving money.”

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